Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center


Mission Statement

To inform and advance research and policy development that will promote optimal children’s oral health and care.

Activities of the Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center

  • Conduct oral health policy research that advances children’s oral health issues and supports AAPD public policy and public relations initiatives at the national, state, local, and international levels with legislatures, government agencies, professional associations, and other non-governmental organizations.
  • Monitor and reports on state, national, and international data concerning the oral health status and overall health status of children
  • Develop and implement special project activities that advance children’s oral health issues and public understanding of such, in accordance with AAPD policies and guidelines
  • To produce timely and high quality policy analysis on critical issues impacting children’s oral health.
  • To produce useful studies and analysis to further the understanding of practices which will contribute to the oral health of all children


Director's Commentary

casamassimo The Director’s Commentary by Dr. Paul S. Casamassimo offers a concise and insightful perspective on current research and policy issues impacting children’s oral health. They are disseminated not only to AAPD members but to other dental organizations and key policymakers.

The most recent Commentary, "Conflicts of the Heart," June 2015, contends that the fragile safety net helping those with disabilities achieve oral health may be fraying needlessly. Pediatric dentistry has addressed the science of care but is challenged to keep pace with changing social policy. 
Previous Issues:


What’s New in Research and Policy 


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant Proposal Accepted

The Policy Center received its first grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationin partnership with the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center, American Dental Association and other dental organizations.  Running from November 2015 to October 2016, the grant will fund Policy Center activities in developing and conducting surveys of pediatric dentists and general dentists about their knowledge, skills and strategies related to reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and preventing childhood obesity. In addition, the AAPD will serve on the steering committee and participate in subsequent activities of the project.

Year 2 DentaQuest Grant Research:
How Pediatricians Can Identify Children with High Caries Risk

The first phase of the Interprofessional Study of Oral Health in Primary Care: Common Risk Factor Study is complete, and the preliminary results are thought-provoking for both pediatric dentists and pediatric medical professionals.  Thanks to Nationwide Children's hospital in Ohio, several non-dental variables commonly included in pediatric medical records that seem to predict caries experience were identified.  These include: 

  • Referral to MD specialist at 12 months
  • Immunizations not up to date at 15 months
  • Breast milk at 15 months
  • History of broken appointments
  • Ethnicity

For this year of the project, the goal has been to explore common health risk factors that may predict caries risk.  Given the inconsistent use of existing tools, the lack of empirical support for dental-specific questions as predictors of future decay, and the limited amount of time during the well-child visit available for oral health, the logical step is to identify those global variables collected routinely for all patients that can show a predictive relationship with dental disease.  

The POHRPC Offers Commentary On New CDC Report

The AAPD provided commentary on the report, Dental Caries and Sealant Prevalence in Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011-2012, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics. Dr. Paul S. Casamassimo stated, "Of particular interest is the 5 percent decrease in which 23 percent of children ages 2 to 5 years had caries in primary teeth. This suggests that more very young children are receiving care, most likely due to the increased number of pediatric dentists, as well as improvements in Medicaid dental programs in some states."

Click here to read the news release

Click Here to read the NCHS Report


Dental Care in Accountable Care Organizations: Insights from Five Case Studies

Leavitt Partners, in collaboration with the AAPD and the ADA, published "Dental Care in Accountable Care Organizations: Insights from Five Case Studies." This new report examines five Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that have integrated oral health services into their care delivery models. It discusses not only the successes that ACOs have had in terms of improving the health status of their patients, but also details the contracting and payment arrangements and the efforts and challenges of each organization to integrate dental care into its overall strategy.

Click here to read the report.


NEW Technical Brief: Unique Considerations for Medicaid Audits of Pediatric Dental Practices

The February 2015 Technical Brief analyzes the unique characteristics of pediatric dental practices crucial to the effectiveness of Medicaid audits. The Brief provides recommendations for consistent audit methods grounded in sound clinical practice, information on the impact of Medicaid audits on access to dental care, as well as current case studies of pediatric dental audits.

Click here to download the technical brief.


NEW Technical Brief: Public Policy Advocate Tip Sheet on Medicaid Compliance and Audit Issues

According to the December 2014 Technical Brief, AAPD Public Policy Advocates are in an ideal position in their own states to prepare members to comply with Medicaid rules. The Brief discusses how Advocates can establish state-level relationships with public and private entities that share the goal of improved oral health for children; promote fair and consistent auditing practices; and educate members about relevant regulations, documentation standards and appropriate billing practices. In addition, the Brief offers practical tips for surviving an audit as a pediatric dental provider.

Click here to download the technical brief. 


Policy Center Receives Renewal of DentaQuest Foundation Grant for Year Two

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Pediatric Oral Health and Policy Research Center has been awarded another one year grant from the DentaQuest Foundation to continue their research on oral health promotion in the primary care setting. The first year of the study was used to gathered information and insight regarding current implementation of oral health promotion in primary care. This was done through focus groups, practice observations, and surveys. The focus for the second year will be on Common Risk Factors. 

Presently, there is no simple caries-risk assessment (CRA) based primarily on visual inspection and risk factors identified in the general medical history in the electronic health record (EHR). Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, OH) has an EPIC EHR system that fully integrates dental with general pediatrics and pediatric specialties.  The availability of this data offers the unique opportunity to identify and evaluate relationships across the span of medical, dental and social services provided to children. The identification of global factors that earmark at risk children for multiple problems, including dental caries, through the analysis of electronic data variables has the potential to transform the CRA process. 

Click here to download a copy of the abstract.


The Interprofessional Study of Oral Health in Primary Care Final Report is Now Available

"Doing visual [oral] screenings triggers in my mind to ask, "When was the last time your child went to the dentist?"

The AAPD Pediatric Oral Health and Policy Research Center released the results of a year-long study, funded by DentaQuest Foundation, which studied oral health promotion in primary care settings. The Center collaborated with representatives from the following organizations: the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), and the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (NIIOH).  The year-long study included focus groups and observations of primary care practices that have implemented oral health promotion activities.  The report provides an overview of how primary care offices are implementing these activities, drivers to successful implementation and recommendations for future activities.

Click here to view the entire report.


AAPD Responds to US Preventive Task Force Draft Recommendation Statement on Prevention of Dental Caries

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force posted its draft Evidence Report and draft Recommendation Statement on prevention of dental caries in children from birth through age 5 years. Both were available for review and public comment from May 21 through June 17, 2013. As the leading authority on children’s oral health, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is a proponent for evidence based dental care and prevention activities; therefore, it is incumbent on the AAPD to provide feedback and input to government reports as the opportunity becomes available. The above referenced recommendation statement and evidence report emphasized the role of fluoride in the prevention of dental caries. Additionally it addessed risk assessment and oral care activities performed by primary care providers (medical practitioners).

Review the AAPD response here.