California Dental Director Gets Green Ligt



Dental director position gets green light 


The establishment of a state dental director position to provide leadership and direction for oral health care in California, a goal CDA has actively pursued for more than two years, will soon become a reality. 


Governor Jerry Brown’s 2014-15 budget revisions released Tuesday call for ongoing funding for a state dental director, who must be a licensed dentist, and an epidemiologist in the Department of Public Health to establish a state oral health program. The program, which will receive $474,000 the first year, will include assessing oral health needs in the state, developing and managing a state oral health plan, and applying for and managing federal and private grants to support oral health — funding that California is currently leaving on the table.   


“Governor Brown recognized the collective work and resounding support of CDA members for a state dental director and state oral health plan,” said CDA President James Stephens, DDS. “Partnered with care provided by dentists across the state, the coordinated state oral health education and preventive programs led by a dental director will have a far-reaching impact on improving oral health for Californians.”


CDA made the establishment of a dental director the top priority of its access to care plan, Phased Strategies for Reducing the Barriers to Dental Care in California. This report was developed in 2011 as a comprehensive strategic approach to reducing barriers to oral health care for vulnerable Californians. Since that time, CDA actively engaged the governor’s administration to secure support for this concept.


In the governor’s outline, which is modeled after CDA’s proposal, the dental director will “create a high-level point of contact within the administration on dental health issues” and be specifically charged with developing a burden of disease report, leading the collaborative process to create a state oral health plan and managing ongoing implementation of that plan. The dental director’s role will also include establishing prevention and oral health literacy projects and working to secure funding for prevention-focused oral health and essential disease prevention services, particularly for children.


The funding will now be incorporated into the 2014-15 state budget package that the Legislature must approve by June 15, before going into effect July 1. CDA will keep members informed about the hiring and progress of the state dental director through the eNewsletter, and the Update.

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