Areas of ADA Advocacy
As the nation’s primary oral health advocate, the American Dental Association (ADA) functions as the unified voice of patients and dental professionals regarding various topics. Several areas of advocacy involve matters of oral health, such as the organization’s commitment to widespread education and the prevention of oral diseases. When it comes to preventing oral diseases through educational initiatives and community programs, the ADA emphasizes fluoridation advocacy, diet and nutrition, and the use of vaping technology and related tobacco products.
The ADA has collaborated with local and state dental groups throughout the United States to promote the benefits of introducing fluoride into public water supplies. In addition to achieving recommended levels of fluoride, the ADA is a vocal proponent of grants that allow communities to maintain, upgrade, and in some cases install for the first time a healthy and equitable public water system.
The ADA has made several official statements regarding the fluoridation of municipal water supplies, most recently in October of 2020 in a letter to the National Academies. The letter highlighted several concerns the ADA had with the way fluoride exposure was positioned in the second draft of the National Toxicology Program. The ADA has also engaged with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the ideal control range for fluoride levels in municipal water supplies.
The ADA has partnered with several lawmakers and health professionals to guide public opinion and knowledge regarding diet and nutrition. The ADA strongly supports well-balanced, nutritious diets for all Americans. To this end, the organization has spoken on matters such as the National Institutes of Health Nutrition Research strategic plan.
The ADA has been especially active in recent years regarding tobacco use and the emerging popularity of vaping products. For decades, health professionals have linked tobacco products to increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease, loss of teeth and bone, and several additional oral health concerns. The ADA supports the complete elimination of all tobacco products, with the sole exception of nicotine products that have been approved to aid in smoking cessation efforts.
Vaping technology has not been researched to the same extent as tobacco products, but the ADA does support information indicating that the use of vaping products makes it more difficult for individuals to stop using tobacco. Vaping products also carry unique dangers, such as orofacial damage resulting from overheated or exploding vape pens.
The ADA released five official statements in this arena for 2021 alone. In July, the organization presented a coalition letter supporting the Tobacco Tax Equity Act of 2021. The legislation called for a higher excise tax on cigarettes at the federal level. The act also represented the first federal tax on vaping products.
While the ADA focuses a great deal of effort on maintaining high oral health for the nation, the organization advocates on a wide range of topics, from the ongoing opioid crisis to matters of student debt. To learn more about the ADA’s position on these and other topics, please visit the organization online at ada.org.