AGD President Testifies to Congressional Committee on Oral Health Literacy

  • by AGD Staff
  • Oct 25, 2021
Last week, AGD President Bruce L. Cassis, DDS, MAGD, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in support of the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act of 2021 (H.R. 4555). While recognizing the importance of preventive oral health care, AGD worked with members of Congress to draft this legislation to authorize a multi-year oral health literacy campaign led by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). If passed, the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act will allocate $750,000 a year for HRSA to develop and test evidence-based oral health literacy strategies and measure the outcomes and effectiveness within vulnerable populations. The bill was introduced in July by Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

“Oral disease significantly impacts children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations,” said Cassis. “For this reason, we continue to fight to help people obtain the services they need to protect their oral and overall health. We are grateful for the ongoing support of Representatives Cárdenas and Bilirakis, who come together to support our communities and the most vulnerable individuals.”

Most oral health ailments can be avoided by increasing oral health literacy, with a particular emphasis on children to ensure they develop and maintain healthy habits into adulthood. This authorization would build on funding HRSA has received in the past three fiscal years to begin undertaking this effort. HRSA’s efforts will advise Congress on the outcomes and effectiveness of targeted oral health literacy strategies and will help inform future efforts to improve oral health literacy for all Americans.

"The matter is complex, but there are a variety of ways to combat the current barriers to better oral health care, including oral health literacy," said Cassis. "The bottom line is that we must remain focused on the best interests of the patient. Dentistry works best as a prevention system, with a dental team providing care from start to finish."

The hearing included significant discussions by the members of the committee and those who testified. It is expected that the bill will be marked up and then referred to the committee for further consideration. 

Watch for more information on this important legislation, or visit AGD's Advocacy center online for more information.