As reported by the PRNewswire, May 18, 2006.

Health Care Leaders Take Aim at Improving Nation's Dental Care Delivery System

New Institute for Oral Health Launched to Advance Innovations

Seattle -- Each year tens of millions of dollars are invested in oral health research and innovations, but it often takes many years before the results reach most dental offices or impact patient care. A new Institute for Oral Health launched today by health care leaders intends to bridge this gap.

Headquartered in Seattle, the Institute was formed to accelerate the development and adoption of progressive treatment guidelines and delivery methods for health care policy makers, the dental profession and the public. The Institute's mission is to increase the use of innovations that will make the U.S. dental care system more effective, more cost efficient and widely accessible.

"The Institute for Oral Health is a new voice for advancing dental care delivery," said Cathye Smithwick, IOH advisory faculty member and Principal with Mercer Health and Benefits. "It's the first time nationally-recognized experts from academia, dental research and public health have joined with commercial dental carriers and purchasers in a public forum to advance how dental care is delivered."


The Institute is advised by a diverse group of health care leaders from around the country who are committed to improving the nation's dental care delivery system.

Howard L. Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, University of Connecticut Health Center

Dr. Bailit is a national leader in health policy and managed care, and serves on many national committees and editorial boards. He has been of member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, since 1984.

Burton L. Edelstein, D.D.S., M.P.H.
Professor of Dentistry and Health Policy & Management, Columbia University

Dr. Edelstein is Founding Director of Children's Dental Health Project, a Washington, D.C. based research and policy organization committed to improving children's oral health and dental care.

Alonzo L. Plough, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Vice President of Program, Planning and Evaluation at The California Endowment

An expert in public health, Dr. Plough is leading the Endowment's efforts to expand access to quality health care for the underserved and all Californians.

Cathye Smithwick, R.D.H., M.A.
Principal and dental consulting practice leader at Mercer Health & Benefits, San Jose, California

Ms. Smithwick is a hygienist, health care economist and nationally recognized health care benefits consultant. She advises large employers, public agencies and policy makers on ways to improve economic efficiency, quality and access of their dental benefit programs and serves as an expert resource to the dental benefits industry as a whole.

Breaking Down Barriers

The Institute for Oral Health will apply the knowledge gained from scientific research, and the insight from data analysis, to recommend options to overcome the barriers to efficient and effective dental care delivery and drive change by:

  • Filling the gap that exists between research-and-development
    institutions and real world dental practice;
  • Cutting the time it takes to transfer innovations from academic
    research to the dental chair and positively impact oral health; and
  • Facilitating the adoption of innovations by health care policy makers,
    dental care providers and the insurance community.

The Institute will make research and data accessible as a resource to government agencies, universities, benefits companies, dental professionals, dental benefits purchasers and the public. It will also collaborate with other organizations to support public policies that advance oral health.

"Oral health is an essential component of overall health," said Howard Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D. "That's why we need to make greater efforts to speed the adoption of new and more effective treatment technologies to dental practitioners and educators."

Initial funding for the Institute was provided through a grant from Washington Dental Service, a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association.