Legislation provides increased research, education funding

The president recently signed into law a package of legislation that significantly increases funding for dental research, education and related matters.  The legislation also provides tax code changes that will help dentists, employers and health care consumers, and will effectively address a number of critical public health issues relating to oral and overall health. Through coalitions and other advocacy efforts, the ADA helped ensure increased funding for a number of dental programs, including:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Funding increased by more than $2 million to $18 million for the 2016 fiscal year for the CDC's Division of Oral Health, which helps states improve their oral health programs, encourages the effective use of fluoride products and community water fluoridation and promotes school-based and linked dental sealant programs.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research —Nearly $415.6 million in funding was approved for the NICDR, a more than $17 million increase for the institute. Report language accompanying the appropriations bill cites a decline in caries rates for most Americans but notes disparities among some population groups and encourages the NIDCR to explore more opportunities related to dental caries research.

Health Resources and Services Administration — Funding increased to nearly $35.9 million for oral health training programs with $10 million set aside for general dentistry residencies, a $1 million increase, and $10 million for pediatric dental residencies, also a $1 million increase. Research from the Health Resources and Services Administration shows that these residencies increase access to oral health services for underserved and vulnerable populations.

Maternal and Child Health, Special Projects of Regional and National Significance — Congress set aside $5 million for oral health research in 2016. These grants support research and training, working to educate mothers in the prenatal and postnatal period on the importance of oral health while encouraging improved oral health across the lifespan.

Health Career Opportunity Program — The president's budget would have eliminated these funds, but congress assured that funding will continue at the fiscal year 2015 level of $14.2 million. These programs often begin in middle schools and focus on increasing the pipeline for multicultural workforce opportunities in dentistry, allied and other health professions.

Area Health Education Centers — Congress assured that funding will continue at nearly $30.3 million for these centers, which support academic-community partnerships toward improving distribution, diversity and supply of the primary care health professions workforce serving in rural and underserved areas.

Ryan White AIDS Dental Services — Funding will continue at more than $13.1 million. The dental reimbursement and community-based dental partnership programs provide oral health care for persons with HIV/AIDS.

Military dental research — Funding will continue at $6 million. Military research units address dental disease and craniomaxillofacial battle injuries. The research detachment includes Army, Navy and Air Force officers in oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontal surgery, plastic surgery, comprehensive dentistry, dental materials science and engineering, dental epidemiology, dental infectious disease and dental public health.

Indian Health Service — The dental account received nearly $178.3 million in funding, a more than $4.3 million increase, which will help the dental program in its efforts to protect and promote oral health and prevent oral disease among all American Indian and Alaska Native beneficiaries.

The ADA also helped support several important public health initiatives, including nutrition, e-cigarettes and CDC opioid prescription drug overdose prevention activity, a program that received a $50 million increase to $70 million.

For details on any of these initiatives or to read more about ADA's activity, see the ADA news story.

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