In December 2021, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) compiled a report of research, data, case studies and articles from over 400 multi-disciplinary experts in the field of oral health. The new report, titled Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges, is a follow-up to the initial report on oral health from twenty years ago, 2000 Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General.
NIH invited Kansas City University College of Dental Medicine (KCU-CDM) administrators and faculty Linda Niessen, DMD, MPH, MPP, and Sharon M. Gordon, DDS, MPH, PhD, to serve as contributors to the federal report. Both Niessen and Gordon are nationally known for their expertise and widely published work and research.
Niessen serves as vice provost for Oral Health Affairs for Kansas City University (KCU) and founding dean and professor for KCU-CDM. She was an author and editor on the report’s section 3A “Oral Health Across the Lifespan: Working-Age Adults.” Niessen’s specialties and areas of interests cover aging and oral health, oral disease patterns in rural populations, dental public health and preventive oral health care issues.
Gordon is a KCU-CDM professor and serves as associate dean for Academic Affairs and Research. Gordon authored the report’s section entitled “Orofacial Pain and Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.” Her specialties and interests include access to oral health-care services, evidential basis of dental and craniofacial pain management, clinician research training and faculty career development.
Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges is a sweeping, comprehensive effort to tell the entire story of the state of oral health in America. The report draws on data and content from public research and evidence-based practices to present the state of oral health in the U.S. as well as further illustrating the link between oral health and overall health.
Stated in the executive summary, “This report also sheds new light on how people in the United States experience oral health differently, based on their age, economic status, and a number of other social and commercial determinants.”
“The data in this report demonstrate the importance of how oral health can contribute to overall health,” Niessen said. “More importantly, the report notes that oral health is not distributed equitably across America and supports KCU’s decisions to start a new dental school in the Joplin area.”
KCU plans to open the new College of Dental Medicine that is currently under construction in August 2023. The new college’s academic focus is on improving oral health through prevention and treatment of oral diseases. The dental school will interface with KCU College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Biosciences to implement inter-professional education to improve health outcomes of patients. The dental school will also partner with community-based health centers in rural communities as 4th-year dental students provide clinical dental care as part of the training.
Download the PDF report: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/Oral-Health-in-America-Advances-and-Challenges.pdf (36 MB)
Read the Executive Summary: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2021-12/Oral-Health-in-America-Executive-Summary.pdf (2 MB)