Dean Frankl Speaks at Third Annual Beacon Hill Day

December 22, 2006

Dr. Spencer N. Frankl, dean of BUSDM and chair of the Oral Health Collaborative of Massachusetts, spoke June 8 to lawmakers and oral health professionals at the Third Annual Beacon Hill Day sponsored by the Massachusetts Dental Society.

Frankl discussed the 2005 Massachusetts Oral Health Report, which summarizes the oral health status of Massachusetts residents. This year’s report, focusing on children’s oral health, was the second such report for the state.

“Unfortunately,” said Dean Frankl, the "report’s disappointing findings underscore the fact that we need to do more to ensure the overall health and well-being of our children.”

Citing the 2004 Massachusetts Head Start Oral Health Survey, Dean Frankl said 37% of the three- to five-year-old children surveyed had dental disease, and an equal percentage showed signs of early dental decay. He also noted that in one in four of these children the dental disease was untreated, 8% had urgent dental needs that required immediate care. A separate survey, said Dean Frankl, showed 9% of children from birth to age three seeking care at Boston hospitals already had early childhood caries. This percentage is twice the national average.

“I challenge us all to become vested in this problem, and be part of the solution, so future surveys document marked improvements in the oral health of our children,” he said.

How the 2006 fiscal year budget for Massachusetts addresses these concerns is now up to Governor Mitt Romney. The House-Senate Conference Committee on Thursday gave the governor a version that included language restoring MassHealth dental benefits for pregnant women and mothers with children under age three. Legislators also retained the Outside Section allowing dentists participating in MassHealth to limit their enrollment. Governor Romney has nine more days to review and act on the proposed budget.