Coalition honors Maryland's oral health heroes

June 16, 2010
Advocates recognized for their commitment to oral health and speak to current state and future of oral health in Maryland.

Leaders in health in Maryland gathered in mid-June 2010 at the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore for the first Maryland Oral Health Heroes awards ceremony, hosted by the Maryland Dental Action Coalition.

The ceremony combined a panel discussion focused on Maryland's role as a national leader in community programming for oral health, and recognized six legislators and community leaders who have made a difference in improving the oral health of Maryland's residents.

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John Colmers and Dr. Harry Goodman, director of the Office of Oral Health at DHMH, were recognized for championing oral health within state government and across the health- care community and for their role in developing creative programs that are designed to increase access to dental care in creative and practical new ways.

State Sen. Thomas McClain Middleton and State Del. Peter Hammen were recognized for championing oral health in the Maryland General Assembly and for significant policy, funding, and legislative efforts that have begun to improve the oral health of Maryland's residents.

Dr. Scott Wolpin, dental director of Choptank Community Health Systems, was recognized for developing and sustaining a comprehensive community approach to the delivery of oral health care on Maryland's Eastern

Dr. Winifred Booker, a practicing dentist and leader in the Maryland dental community, was recognized for her grassroots work to improve oral health through creative programs such as "Lessons in a Lunchbox" and "Project Clean Toothbrush."

"Congratulations to all of the outstanding 2010 Maryland Oral Health Heroes," said MDAC Chair Beth Lowe.

"These awards celebrate their accomplishments as individuals and as community leaders. It is important to remember that dental disease is nearly 100% preventable. All Marylanders are better off because of the thoughtful work of each hero in developing solutions to very real problems in the state. Thanks to their efforts, today, Maryland has become a national model for improving the oral health of its citizens."

The awards ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion, entitled: "Closing the Gap: Making Oral Health Accessible, Affordable and Achievable," moderated by DentaQuest Foundation President Ralph Fuccillo. The discussion spoke about the opportunities to continue to improve access to oral health care in Maryland, and how oral health will be affected by national health reform.

"It is important to convene thoughtful leaders whose experience and expertise addresses all aspects of the oral health issue so that we can continue to work together and share best practices with the greater health care community as well as with policy and other decision makers," said Fuccillo.

"The DentaQuest Foundation is committed to convening groups like this to support and advocate for improvements in oral health prevention and access to care."

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