Meharry students address barriers to care in local community

Students at Meharry Medical College recently hosted the annual Oral Health Day that treated over 300 local community members and provided over $150,000 worth of free dental care. 40 dentists and 140 dental students came together to make this event a success. 

Sheream Reed, president of Meharry ASDA, shared, 


“Providing free dental care at the Meharry Oral Health Day provided students and me with a regained focus toward Meharry’s Mission: “Worship of God through Service to Mankind.” I value the Oral Health Day experience because it provided me with a sense of purpose and a restored sense of community, which has been relatively absent since the emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Why does it matter?

Barriers to Care is a term used to describe anything that prevents a patient from receiving the care they need. Many patients experience financial, geographic, educational or cultural barriers to care. Events like Meharry’s Oral Health Day can help reduce these barriers and ensure patients’ oral health needs are met. 

Thanks for a great Advocacy Month: Midterm Minute

Advocacy Month may be over, but our advocacy work doesn’t stop here. Sixty Seconds to Advocacy kicks off in 2023! Stay tuned for more details. 

Continue your advocacy journey by applying to serve ASDA on the national level

If you’re ready to take your advocacy to the next level, consider applying to serve on ASDA’s National Council on Advocacy. This council is made up of ASDA members from across the country who develop engaging advocacy initiatives (like Advocacy Month) and educate members on why advocacy is important. Click here for more info. Applications close at 11:59 p.m. CT on December 12. 

Advocacy Brief Challenge

Which state’s race for the 1 remaining seat in the House of Representatives has yet to be called? 

The first five people to email with the correct answer to this question will win an Amazon gift card. All responses will also earn 1 point in the Advocacy Certificate Program.

From Washington

Urge the Senate to pass ELSA before the end of the year

On January 3, a new session of Congress begins. All bills that don’t get signed into law before then “die” and must start the legislative process all over again. At this time, ELSA, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, has already passed in the House of Representatives, but has not yet passed the Senate. ASDA urged lawmakers in October to include ELSA in any package scheduled to be taken up before the end of the year. 

ELSA ensures that children born with a congenital anomaly or birth defect such as a cleft lip and palate receive the specialized surgery they need to breathe, speak and eat normally. Get involved and send your legislator a letter in ASDA Action urging they pass this bill.

Student loan payment pause extended again amid legal setbacks for Biden

The payment freeze on student loans has been extended again while litigation is resolved surrounding President Biden’s student debt relief program. As reported in the September issue of Advocacy Brief, Biden launched a program to relieve up to $10,000 or $20,000 in student debt for qualifying borrowers. Recently, courts have issued orders blocking the program. As a result, the Department of Education (ED) is not currently accepting applications for the program and has asked the Supreme Court to intervene. 

Borrowers were scheduled to resume making payments on student loans after the payment freeze expires on December 31. However, the freeze has now been extended again until the litigation is resolved or until the ED is permitted to implement the debt relief program. Payments will restart 60 days later. If the relief program has not been implemented and litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023, then payments will resume 60 days after that. The ED will notify borrowers before payments restart. 

Borrowers should visit to explore more affordable repayment options, other debt forgiveness programs, and more.

Dental students, dentists authorized to administer monkeypox vaccine

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients against monkeypox, smallpox and other orthopoxviruses in a declared emergency. A recent CDC report indicates the monkeypox outbreak has slowed due to increased availability of vaccines and greater public awareness, but it may continue to spread indefinitely at low levels. 

HHS previously amended the PREP Act in 2021 to allow dentists and dental students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. By expanding the number of providers who can administer vaccines, HHS hopes to increase equitable access for those at high risk for infection.

Why does it matter? ASDA’s H-11, I-2 and I-3 policies address various aspects of vaccine education and administration. Did you know all of ASDA’s policies are developed, debated and adopted by dental students during ASDA’s House of Delegates meeting? If you’re interested in submitting a resolution for ASDA’s 2023 House of Delegates meeting, check out these tips. 

From the States

New York governor signs bill changing residency requirements  


On Nov. 21, the governor of New York signed a bill that will remove a requirement for residency programs to be clinically based. In New York, a one-year residency is required for initial dental licensure. Prior to this bill, residency programs were required to be clinically based, but the new law will allow other types of residency programs such as those in oral medicine, orofacial pain and dental public health to fulfill the requirement for licensure. 

Oregon adds the right to affordable health care to the state constitution

During the November “Midterm Minute” elections, voters in Oregon narrowly approved a ballot measure requiring the state to provide access to affordable health care as a fundamental right. The ballot passed with 50.7% in favor and 49.3% opposed. Oregon is the first state to change its constitution to explicitly declare affordable health care a fundamental right. Supporters say few changes to the state’s current health care system will be needed, but opponents argued the amendment’s vagueness may result in unintended consequences. 

Kentucky Board of Dentistry proposes rules for mobile dental clinics and portable dental units

The Kentucky Board of Dentistry filed proposed rules to govern the registration and operation of mobile dental clinics and portable dental units. In addition to requiring these facilities to meet registration and record-keeping requirements, the rule would also require them to: 

  • Maintain a signed agreement with a fixed general practice or pediatric dental office within 70 miles of the treatment location that will accept timely referrals for follow-up and emergency care.
  • Provide each patient with an information sheet that contains a plan for follow-up care, and specified contact information that can be used to obtain follow-up care.
  • Operate under the supervision of a Kentucky-licensed dentist, who is responsible for all aspects of patient care.

The rule would exempt mobile dental facilities and portable dental units engaged exclusively in charitable dental practices as well as public health dental hygienists. 

Contact with questions. 

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