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 
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:

Latest News in Research in Policy (Click to Expand)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant Proposal Accepted Arrow_2_black

The Policy Center received its first grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 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 Final Report Available: How Pediatricians can identify Children with High Caries Risk Arrow_2_black

The second 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

With an aim of creating a history-based caries-risk screening tool that more easily assimilates into the work flow of a well-child visit, we sought to identify health screening measures already intrinsic to the well-child encounter that might also be associated with caries risk.  

The next steps are to incorporate these variables into a new medically specific caries risk assessment tool that can automatically be calculated by one’s electronic health record system to improve provider adherence to oral health screening at the well-child visit. Earlier oral health screenings, prompting more referrals of young children to a dental home, will help provide access to preventive dental services to those children most at risk for dental problems.

Click here to read the report.

The POHRPC Offers Commentary On New CDC Report Arrow_2_black

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 Arrow_2_black

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: Public Policy Advocate Tip Sheet on Medicaid Compliance and Audit Issues Arrow_2_black

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.