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Educational Research and Analysis — December 2013

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The American Dental Association (ADA) Prevention Summit convened at the ADA Chicago headquarters on November 18–20. Those in attendance focused on the opportunities to develop and implement innovative strategies in oral health disease prevention.

Gathered was a diverse group of invited stakeholders from industry, academia, research, the practicing community, members of the ADA Board and Tristate, local and federal governments, advocacy groups and non-dental health professionals. A staff member of the ADEA Educational Research and Analysis (ERA) portfolio represented ADEA.

On the first day presenters helped participants understand the need to reimagine and broaden oral health prevention strategies for non-dental health professions and patient populations not currently accessing the traditional dental care delivery system. Participants examined current prevention models and frameworks, such as the Socio-Ecological Model (societal, community, relationship and individual) and the Theory of the Four Stages of Prevention (primordial, primary, secondary and tertiary). They also examined and discussed successful public health campaigns and existing prevention initiatives, including those that focus on related diseases and high-risk populations.

ADA speakers on the second day presented on current prevention strategies and recent research advances in four specific dental conditions: dental caries, periodontal disease, facial trauma injuries and oral cancer. Participants then examined treatment modalities and identified strategies to improve prevention in the specific disease areas, which led to several goals: realizing oral health equity, that is, eliminating health disparities; eradicating dental caries, meaning raising a generation of caries-free children; shifting the focus of oral health care delivery to prevention; and conducting risk assessments during evaluations.

On the final day participants discussed how to collectively achieve their goals for the prevention of oral health diseases, and how to measure that achievement. They developed several overarching themes for how to improve upon current models and strategies: focus on prevention throughout the lifespan, not just early years; engage patient populations in lower socioeconomic status groups by using social media; focus on culturally competent care; include a comprehensive approach in caring for patients’ health; and involve more stakeholders such as teachers and parents. The summit closed with developing actionable goals that leveraged the resources of the invited stakeholders.

After the summit, the work continues. In the upcoming months the ADA will release a detailed meeting report and summit participants will continue to discuss how to move forward with reinvigorated focus on oral health disease prevention.