On Tuesday, September 18, Dr. Ann Nasti, Associate Dean for Clinical Education at Stony Brook University’s School of Dental Medicine, joined colleagues from around the nation to take part in the American Dental Education Association’s 2018 Advocacy Day in Washington, DC.
During meetings with representatives of Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Lee Zeldin, Dr. Nasti emphasized why funding for oral health training programs and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research funding (NIDCR) is critical for the overall health of patients as well as the advancement of the oral health care professions.
“Dentists, like other health professionals, are uniquely positioned to be public health advocates,” said Dr. Nasti. “Since the actions that Congress and the administration take have lasting ramifications for education and the practice of dentistry, continued funding for the Title VII health professions training programs is essential. These programs provide scholarships for disadvantaged students, low-cost student loans, and loan repayment for young faculty with student loan debt. Continued and increased funding for the NIDCR — which promotes the timely transfer of knowledge gained from research and its implications for health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policy-makers — is of paramount importance.”
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reports that there are 5,719 Dental Health Professional shortage areas in the country requiring 10,371 new dentists to fill the gap. There are 56 million individuals living in these shortage areas. Funding from Public Health Service Act Title VII Oral Health Training Programs assist dental schools in educating new dentists and dental hygienists and provide residency training to Pediatric and General Dental post-doctoral students. These programs also fund loan repayment programs to incentivize dentists and dental hygienists to practice in underserved areas for a set period of time. Many of these dental health providers decide to work in underserved areas permanently even after their term of service is over.
School-based caries prevention programs have become an important way to improve access to dental services. In medically underserved areas, these programs often serve as the sole source of dental care for children and adolescents.
Stony Brook’s Office of Government Relations continues to work with colleagues in Washington, DC to advocate for increased federal funding for higher education programs and scientific research.