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HIGH POWERED DENTAL CONFERENCE GETS TO ROOT OF AMERICA'S TOOTH AND GUM PROBLEMS

 HIGH POWERED DENTAL CONFERENCE GETS TO ROOT
 OF AMERICA'S TOOTH AND GUM PROBLEMS


Conclusions: Americans Fooling Themselves About Own Dental Health ...
 Dentists To Do More In Future ... Unusual Alliance Between
 Government and Private Sector Achieving
 Startling Results Using Brains and Creativity
 IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Some 130 of America's most knowledgeable and powerful dental health professionals concluded a three-day meeting to swap information about the state of America's teeth and gums. Conclusion: Things need to change and quick.
 Dentists, health policy makers and manufacturers met in Irvine to make plans for Oral Health 2000, the largest oral health education campaign in America's history.
 Some of the high points:
 -- The average American child has "pretty good oral health" because of fluoridated water and toothpaste, better dental care and better educated kids and parents. Cavities are down in kids over the last few years.
 However, according to Stephen Corbin, D.D.S., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control, some kids have serious dental problems: children of minorities, poor migrant workers and those living in areas where fluoride isn't added to the water system. This adds up to nearly 50 percent of children in the United States.
 -- American adults have their problems too. Three-fourths think they won't get gum disease. Yet one-half admit they have bleeding gums, a symptom of gum disease which eventually leads to tooth loss. In other words, people don't know the symptoms of the disease, or they do and are just pretending the problem doesn't exist. The result: more than one-third of those over 65 have lost all their teeth. Unfortunately, dentures aren't a great alternative. They function only one-sixth or one-seventh as well as natural teeth. As a result, denture wearers often don't eat foods (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables) they need to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
 -- The question is: what's to be done? Oral Health 2000 wants to fix these problems by educating Americans (primarily adults) on taking care of their teeth. News campaigns, PSAs, sponsored activities and events featuring the former surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, M.D., are planned, said Robert Klaus, Ph.D., executive director of the American Fund for Dental Health.
 -- Also dentists will change their role, in part because of the threat of oral cancer. Each year 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer and 9,000 die from it. According to Rear Adm. Robert J. Collins, chief dental officer, U.S. Public Health Service, there are more cases of oral cancer than cervical cancer. For that reason, over the next 10 to 30 years, dentists will become "physicians of the mouth" in order to diagnose oral cancer as well as other skin and gland diseases that lead to tooth loss and facial disfigurements. He added that because dentists examine the face and neck every dental visit, they will play a greater role in disgnosing domestic violence, namely child and spouse abuse.
 -- Regarding the unusual alliances between governments and the private sector: the state of Arizona is hiring dentists to care for homebound patients who need dental care but can't get to the dentist. Jack Dillenberg, D.D.S., M.P.H., Arizona Dept. of Health Services, said that the so-called "portable dentist office" is making this possible and it's a big hit.
 -- Here's a blockbuster: The state of Maryland is helping to get people off welfare by giving them better smiles. The University of Maryland provides supervised dental students to repair the damaged teeth and gums of welfare recipients. The result is people look better ... feel better about themselves ... and they go out and get jobs. The cost to the patient: a $10, one-time fee. EEOC and the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene cooperate on this project.
 -- The private sector is extremely interested in funding or otherwise assisting the Oral Health 2000 campaign. Attending the three-day meeting were representatives from Eastman Kodak Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., Procter & Gamble, SmithKline Beecham Consumer Brands and 3M Health Care among others.
 -0- 1/10/92
 /CONTACT: Jay Geer or Tom Marshall of Miller Geer & Assoc., 213-689-1579, for Oral Health 2000/ CO: ST: California IN: HEA SU:


EH-KJ -- LA017 -- 8841 01/10/92 19:58 EST
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Date:Jan 10, 1992
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