C. Scott Litch, Esq., CAE

Inspiring Stories

BY: C. Scott Litch, Esq., CAE

Celebrating Associations: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, AAPD

About

We’re celebrating AAPD because it has committed to a cavity-free youth through community-based initiatives in underserved areas and kid-focused programming.

Association and history: Founded in 1947, the AAPD is a not-for-profit professional membership association representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry and is the recognized authority on children’s oral health. As advocates for children’s oral health, the AAPD promotes evidence-based policies and clinical guidelines; educates and informs policymakers, parents and guardians, and other health care professionals; fosters research; and provides continuing professional education for pediatric dentists and general dentists who treat children.

The AAPD’s vision is optimal oral health for all children.

About its members: The AAPD’s 10,000 members serve as primary care and specialty providers for millions of children from infancy through adolescence; provide advanced, specialty-level care for infants, children, adolescents and patients with special healthcare needs; and are the primary contributors to professional education programs and scholarly works concerning children’s dental care.

The Challenge

When we think of childhood diseases, tooth decay generally is not one that comes to mind. Is it a serious problem?

AAPD: Yes! Tooth decay (cavities) is the single most common chronic childhood disease, and it’s an epidemic among our nation’s youngest children from families struggling with poverty. Hundreds of thousands of children nationwide go untreated each year because of financial hardship. Worse, cavities are usually entirely preventable if a child receives regular dental care and follows good preventive care at home (such as brushing for two minutes two times a day).

That’s why the Foundation of the AAPD, Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (HSHC), supports community-based initiatives to provide “dental homes” to children from families who cannot afford dental care. A dental home is a place where children receive consistent, compassionate dental care. “Consistent” is key. We strongly feel that on-going pediatric dental care is essential for giving children the proper foundation for a healthy life, from childhood through adolescence and beyond.

The Solution

AAPD: We’re proud to report that since 2010, HSHC has awarded more than $4.6 million in grants and commitments to 89 organizations in 32 states and the District of Columbia. HSHC grantees have helped provide Dental Homes to more than 320,000 children.

In addition, every year—before the start of our annual session —we conduct a “Dental Home Day” at a local clinic to promote the program by providing dental care to children. It’s staffed by member volunteers.

Then there’s, “Mouth Monsters.” I took the Santa quiz. With the attention-grabbing and colorful graphics and interesting topics, parents and kids must love this website!

AAPD: They do. So do our members. The example you mentioned asked parents and kids a series of questions to help Santa pack his sleigh by choosing healthy snacks. It was very popular and taught some important lessons on taking care of your teeth.

Obviously, we change the content to reflect the time of year. Our members refer parents to this website all the time, and its engaging layout captivates kids and adults.

Mouth Monsters was launched in 2014, as a kid-friendly public relations campaign, designed as a way for children and their parents to learn about good dental care and the importance of pediatric dentists—while having fun. It links to our consumer portal. Through this site, we are committed to providing parents with the latest information and data regarding their children’s dental and oral healthcare, courtesy of our member pediatric dentists, who are on the front lines serving as primary care and specialty providers for millions of children.

Developing the next generation of leaders is becoming a priority for many organizations. What is the AAPD doing in this regard?

AAPD: Fourteen years ago, AAPD established the Leadership Institute with the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University for members who want to move into the leadership ranks. Participants engage in a variety of educational forums that include leadership management, organization change, negotiation strategies and crisis management, during four-day weekends, over three years.

To qualify, members must undergo a very competitive admissions process. AAPD and HSHC issue a call for applications to all AAPD members every three years. Besides their CVs and documentation of their professional accomplishments and future goals, applicants also must demonstrate how their participation in the program will benefit their volunteer pursuits outside of organized dentistry.

In 2012 the AAPD established an Advanced Leadership Institute at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. This is available to graduates of the Kellogg program. The first Wharton cohort helped AAPD to develop a new, streamlined strategic plan.

The Results

In 2017, you launched “Pedo Teeth Talks” podcasts. Will you continue? And what’s new for 2018?

AAPD: Podcasts have been very successful in reaching our audience. We have kept them to a short time frame, making it easy for our members to digest the content. During the AAPD 2018 Annual Session, we will have the opportunity to capture more content for Pedo Teeth Talk as we interview experts speaking at the meeting.

Another big AAPD development in 2018 will be the release of a pediatric dentist workforce report, which will be disseminated to policymakers and the media. It was developed under contract with the Center for Health Workforce Studies, University at Albany, SUNY.