Academy of General Dentistry Endorses Oral Health Literacy Awareness Legislation

  • by AGD Staff
  • Oct 15, 2019

CHICAGO (September 2019) – The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) announced its full support of H.R. 4678, the “Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act of 2019,” legislation introduced today by Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA). The bill, which was developed in partnership with the AGD, amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to increase oral health literacy and awareness in specific at-risk populations including: children, pregnant women, elderly, individuals with disabilities, and ethnic and racial minority groups. 

“Last year we appropriated funds to create an oral health literacy program for the participants of targeted programs offered by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),” said Congressman Bilirakis. “This year, I’m pleased to partner with Congressman Tony Cárdenas to expand that initiative by sponsoring the bipartisan Oral Health and Literacy Awareness Act. We can save money in the long run and help program participants avoid pain and suffering through proper education.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), less than 50% of Americans visit the dentist as recommended. As a baseline for this initiative, data shows that 44.5% of Americans visited the dentist in 2007 and dropped to 43.3% in 2016. 

“This is a slippery slope we can fix,” emphasized Congressman Bilirakis. “If left untreated, oral disease can result in pain, disfigurement, loss of productivity at school or work, nutrition problems, expensive emergency room use, and even death.  Most of these conditions are preventable with proper oral hygiene.  In this case, it really is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure.”

“On behalf of the 40,000 general dentists who are members of the Academy of General Dentistry, I want to stress the importance funding oral health programs, and I urge Congress to approve this legislation,” said AGD President Neil J. Gajjar, DDS, MAGD. “Programs that promote good oral health are closely tied with good overall health, and this is critical to members of our communities. We want to extend our appreciation to Representatives Cárdenas and Bilirakis for introducing this legislation.”

The public education campaign would be delivered across all relevant HRSA programs, including the Health Centers Program, Oral Health Workforce, Maternal and Child Health, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and Rural Health. If enacted, H.R.4678 would authorize up to $750,000 per year through the end of 2024 for HRSA to carry out its oral health literacy and awareness campaign.

About the Academy of General Dentistry
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of over 40,000 general dentists dedicated to providing quality dental care and oral health education to the public. AGD members stay up-to-date in their profession through a commitment to continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD is the second largest dental association in the United States, and it is the only association that exclusively serves the needs and represents the interests of general dentists. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management, and overall coordination of services related to patients’ oral health needs. For more information about the AGD, visit

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