Archive for the ‘Public Policy’ Category

Dental Practice Employment Law Update: After Measure 91, is Marijuana Just Another Legal Drug?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Randall Sutton, Saalfeld Griggs PC

Reliable and productive staff is the backbone of every dental practice. It is well known that substance abuse problems can interfere with work. Unreliable attendance, lack of focus, and poor decision making are common outcomes of staff substance abuse. For these reasons, many dental practices find it critical to maintain a drug-free workplace.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the legalization of marijuana for recreational use poses new challenges for dental employers. If the experiences of Colorado and Washington are any indication, Oregon is likely to see a significant increase in the number of employees testing positive for marijuana.  In the year following legalization in both states, positive tests increased by over 20% according to a recent study by a national testing lab.  Moreover, the decriminalization of marijuana and resulting drop in prices, combined with tightened controls on prescription drugs, has led to a surge in the manufacture and importation of heroin into the United States from Mexico.  Given the level of dependability, skill and professionalism required of dental staff, these developments make an enforceable drug and alcohol policy and testing program more important than ever.

The recent change in the law has also brought changes to perceptions and expectations about marijuana use, particularly on the question of whether the drug should be subject to looser regulation by Oregon employers. As of July 1 of this year, marijuana will join alcohol as the only legal intoxicants that can be used recreationally. Given the significant change in the you’re your staff may erroneously anticipate that marijuana use will be treated the same as alcohol use. Under Oregon law, a dental practice cannot test for alcohol use unless a trained individual determines that the staff member is presently (and visibly) under the influence. Similarly, staff may believe that after July 1, 2015, they may use recreational marijuana away from work so long as they do not appear to be under its influence while at work.

However, testing protocols and Oregon employment laws treat marijuana very differently than alcohol, and the new law allowing recreational use does nothing to change that.  Marijuana is fairly unique among the drugs typically included in an employment-related test panel.  Unlike other drugs, which leave one’s system in a matter of hours or days, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is stored in fat cells in the body and tests may be positive even weeks or months after the staff member’s last use.  Second-hand smoke can also trigger positive results, but testing cutoff protocols are intended to screen out results that arise solely from spending time around pot-smoking friends or colleagues.  In any event, marijuana is unlike alcohol because there is no recognized test to determine whether your staff member is presently impaired by marijuana.

Not only are testing protocols different for alcohol and marijuana use, but Oregon laws treat them differently—even after legalization of recreational marijuana. Since Prohibition ended in the 1930s, alcohol has been legal at the federal level.  In contrast, marijuana continues to be illegal under federal law.  For employers, this distinction is critical.  Given that federal law continues to identify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical use, the Oregon Supreme Court held in a 2010 decision that Oregon employers can enforce zero tolerance policies, even against authorized medical marijuana users. Measure 91 does little to change that holding, as the new law specifically does not “amend or affect in any way any state or federal law pertaining to employment matters.”

In other words, Measure 91 does not require that you abandon zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies or make significant changes to testing protocols. But, in light of changing perceptions about the drug, we recommend that our dental clients update their policies to address the issue of recreational marijuana use and make it clear that the drug is still illegal under federal law and prohibited under the practice’s drug and alcohol policy.

This is also a good time to ensure that your drug and alcohol policy strictly complies with the myriad of complex drug testing legal requirements.  In Oregon, there are restrictive regulations governing whether or not a termination resulting from a positive drug test affects the staff member’s ability to collect unemployment benefits, and it can be challenging to win unemployment appeals if the practice’s policy is not sound and all regulations are not followed. For these reasons, dental practices should work with employment counsel to review and update their drug and alcohol policies before recreational marijuana is decriminalized on July 1st.


Randall Sutton_Saalfeld GriggsSaalfeld Griggs PC is a law firm serving dental practices throughout Oregon and Washington. Randall Sutton is the partner in charge of the firm’s Employment Law and Litigation Practice Group.  He advises dentists on a wide variety of employment matters and represents dental practices in litigation.

Avoiding Organized Dentistry to Save Money on Dues—Think again!

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By: Vanessa Browne, DDS

ODA logo (color)

With the continued rise of educational debt, many dental students are graduating with difficult financial decisions to make. The job market is saturated, many are getting married and starting families, high monthly loan payments are around the corner, and many also are craving delayed gratification for eight or more years of very hard work. It is natural, then, for some to make the decision to delay all unnecessary costs. For some recent graduates, the choice has been to forgo membership in the American Dental Association, the Oregon Dental Association, and their local dental society as a means to save money as they are establishing themselves in the dental community. However, I believe this is the worst choice that a new dentist can make. The benefits of being a member of our dental societies far outweigh the cost.

Dental societies function as a tripartite membership. This means when you become a member, you hold membership at three levels: the national level (American Dental Society), the state level (Oregon Dental Association), and the local level (Oregon has 17 local dental societies). More than 71% of Oregon’s dentists belong to the ODA. While this is an impressive number, the opposite number is staggering. 29% of dentists in Oregon are practicing without the support, network, protection, community, and education that being a dental society member provides. I believe that joining your dental society is a commitment to continued growth as a professional.  Here are just a few ways that organized dentistry can help you:

Peer Relationships

Upon graduation, many new dentists begin working and sometimes lose connections with classmates and the dental community. This is understandable as starting a practice, joining a practice, or becoming an associate is a time-consuming process. However, this is a missed opportunity to seek advice from mentors, learn practice management and clinical techniques from peers, empathize or share experiences among colleagues, and network for leadership, professional, or career opportunities. There are over 2,100 dentist members in the ODA, and 9 staff at ODA working to help provide information, answer questions, and support the profession.


 A portion of the dues paid to the dental societies goes to supporting and protecting the profession. This includes lobbying for specific dental issues. A few of the recent issues facing dentistry include eliminating national license testing with a push toward portfolio licensure for dentists, educating legislators about the negative effect the new medical device tax will have on the cost of oral health care, impeding insurance companies from dictating rates for treatment that insurance does not cover, and providing alternative solutions to the proposed mid-level provider model.

Serving the Community

Being a part of the dental society gives dentists many opportunities to give back to the community. Not only does organized dentistry help educate the public about oral health and the importance of seeking dental care, but it also serves to advocate for changes such as water fluoridation, increased funding for research, dental care for underserved populations and public health initiatives, and increased insurance coverage for dental services. Beyond this, there are opportunities for dental professionals to volunteer in the community through events like Mission of Mercy (November 24-27, 2013) and Give Kids a Smile (February).


Every dental society hosts at least one conference a year with a collection of continuing education courses and a vendor showcase with member discounts. Also available throughout the rest of the year are additional continuing education courses, leadership training, and numerous publications. The Oregon Dental Association publishes its newsletter “Membership Matters” and this blog “The Tooth of the Matter.” The American Dental Association has its own journal “Journal of the American Dental Association” and newsletter “ADA News”. Beyond education for members, these dental societies also provide numerous public health resources and patient education tools that can be used in your office.

Career Protection

Dental societies offer three specific resources for career protection: Insurance for your personal and practice needs, peer review, and a well-being committee. The ADA sponsors life and disability insurance plans at a reduced rate for members. Other dental societies also endorse malpractice insurance companies and other necessary insurance providers. Peer Review is a process by which patients and third party payers can voice concerns or disputes that are resolved by a collection of your colleagues. This allows the dentist and patient to have dental care evaluated in a non-combative environment at a local level. These issues are often resolved at this level and do not have a need to progress to a lawsuit. The Well Being Committee offers dentists who struggle with alcohol and controlled substances an opportunity to get back on track without losing his or her license.

Practice Support:

The ADA and ODA have endorsed programs of products or services and often offer discounts to members. All of the dental societies also have several opportunities to seek employment or place classified ads. These are sometimes the first place individuals will look. Both the ADA and ODA help with patient referrals by listing your practice information on their websites and when patients seek dental care in a certain area, the staff will refer to its members. Additionally, the ADA has a professional product review that provides unbiased dental product information that is scientifically sound, clinically relevant, and user friendly. The ADA also has a center for Evidenced Based dentistry that provides research and gives you access to systematic reviews. Using both of these resources, organized dentistry allows dental professionals to make informed decisions about their practice.


So How Much Will This Cost You?

The dental societies realize that new dentists are graduating with enormous debt loans.  To decrease the burden of membership dues, the American Dental Association and most dental societies structure their dues on a graduated scale over 5 years. Usually, membership in the first year in practice is free. This means that even if you don’t know where you are going to practice, it is beneficial to join to have access to this wealth of resources. At the national level, dues are 25% of full national dues your 2nd year in practice, 50% your 3rd year in practice, 75% your fourth year in practice, and 100% your fifth year in practice. State and local dental societies have a similar system. There are also member get a member discounts to encourage dentists to invite their colleagues to join. Depending on your location, full dues for tripartite membership by your fifth year vary from $900 to $1,800. Students who pursue graduate training also have a reduced rate of $30 for national dues and begin the reduced dues five-year program when their graduate education is complete.

Convinced Yet?

Being a member of organized dentistry can lead to career opportunities, referral connections, educational opportunities, practice management support, risk management answers, reduced rates on endorsed products, unbiased and scientific information on clinical products, support at the legislative level, license protection with peer review, social opportunities, and more. The small cost of membership is worth a lifetime of benefits.

How Do I Get Involved?

The best way to get involved in your dental society is to visit the websites and read the newsletters for upcoming events. It is best to start with your local dental society. Look for New Dentist events, Continuing Education courses, opportunities to be a mentor/mentee, or upcoming conferences such as the Oregon Dental Conference or the American Dental Association New Dentist Conference. There are also numerous opportunities to volunteer with events like the ODA Mission of Mercy (November 24-27, 2013) and Give Kids a Smile (held annually in February).

Check out the following website for more information:


IMG_6409Vanessa Browne, D.D.S, is a 2012 Loma Linda University Dental Graduate who is currently in her orthodontic residency at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, OR. She is a member of the California Dental Association, the Oregon Dental Association, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Orthodontists, and the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists. As a dental student, Vanessa held numerous roles as a leader in organized dentistry including the chair of the California Dental Association student delegation. She is passionate about encouraging dental students and new dentists to join organized dentistry. You can contact her at

Portland City Council Unanimously Votes to Fluoridate Water!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Over the past year and half, the Oregon Dental Association, as a member of the Everyone Deserves Health Teeth Coalition, has been working on a new effort to fluoridate the Bull Run water system. The Bull Run system serves about 900,000 people, or almost one-fourth of Oregon’s population. More than 74 percent of the United States is served by optimally fluoridated community water supplies to protect dental health – and Portlanders will soon join them.

Last week, after a colorful public hearing on September 6th, the City Council unanimously voted in favor of fluoridation. Portland is no longer the largest city in the U.S. that has yet to approve fluoridation to combat tooth decay. The ordinance calls for the city water to be fluoridated by March 2014.

Oregon Dental Association has long been an advocate of community water fluoridation and we were not alone in the fight this time. As a founding member of the Everyone Deserves Healthy Teeth Coalition,  made up of dental and medical professionals, children’s advocates, business leaders, and Portland citizens, we called on the Portland City Council to fluoridate Portland’s water as a safe, effective and affordable way to increase the oral health of our community.

One in three Oregon children has untreated cavities, jeopardizing their health and educational success. Financially, dental decay accounts for 30 percent of all health care costs for children. Dental–related emergency room visits by Oregon’s Medicaid enrollees jumped 31 percent in the past few years, causing a tremendous increase on healthcare costs.

Fluoridating Portland’s water is affordable and will save money. Initial start-up costs are estimated to be about $5 per person with an annual cost of $0.61 per person, based on average water use.That is less expensive than providing fluoride treatments in dental offices and schools. The return is very high: every $1 invested in fluoridation saves over $30 in decreased treatment costs for fillings and more serious dental work. Cheers to healthier teeth!

Visit to learn more.

William E. Zepp, CAE, is the Executive Director of the Oregon Dental Association. Bill previously served as Executive Director of both the Virginia and Montana Dental Associations and has been involved in association management for twenty five years. Bill is also active with the American Society of Association Executives, serving as a past chair of the Small Staff Associations Committee. He has given presentations on non-dues revenue and management at several ASAE Annual Sessions. He is a past-president of the Oregon Society of Association Management.




African American Health Coalition

African Partnership for Health

African Women’s Coalition

American Medical Student Association, OHSU Chapter

Albina Head Start

Asian Health & Service Center

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)

Capitol Dental Care


Center for Intercultural Organizing

Central City Concern

Children First for Oregon

Coalition of Communities of Color

Coalition of Community Health Clinics

Component Dental Societies

Dental Foundation of Oregon

Familias en Acción

Friends of Creston Children‘s Dental Clinic

Health Share of Oregon (Tri-County CCO)

Kaiser Permanente Northwest

Knowledge Universe

Latino Network

Legacy Health

Lutheran Community Services Northwest

Native American Youth Association (NAYA)

Northwest Health Foundation

Medical Teams International

OEA Choice Trust

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

Oral Health Outreach

Oregon Academy of Family Physicians

Oregon Community Foundation

Oregon Dental Association

Oregon Dental Hygienists’ Association

Oregon Dental Services Companies

Oregon Head Start

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Latino Health Coalition

Oregon Latino Agenda for Action

Oregon Medical Association

Oregon Nurses Association

Oregon Oral Health Coalition

Oregon Pediatric Society

Oregon Primary Care Association

Oregon Public Health Association

Oregon Public Health Institute

Oregon School Nurses Association

Oregon School-Based Health Care Network

Pew Center on the States

Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon

Physicians for a National Health Program, OHSU Chapter

Portland African American Leadership Forum

Providence Health & Services – Oregon


Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon

SEIU Local 49

Urban League

Upstream Public Health

Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

Willamette Dental

Does Botox Have a Role in Dentistry? Yes!

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By Dr. James Catt

Does Botox have a role in dentistry?  This was what I was determined to discover when I registered for my first introductory Botox course.  The course was instructed by Dr. Warren Roberts from the Pacific Training Institute for Facial Esthetics (PTIFA) in Vancouver B. C. .  I was drawn here because of its recognition by both ADG PACE and ADA CERP as well as this being the most thoroughprogram that I could find. I was in search of answers, not a diluted course that spoon fed material and handedout a flowchart of “how to’s”.  I needed both a didactic and clinical perspective in order to arrive at a sound judgment on the practicality and safety of the possible utilization of Botox in my practice if Oregon were to allow dental professionals access to this therapy.  PTIFA fulfilled this requirement for me.

Admittedly, prior to attending the training I had some pre-existing bias on two levels.  Apprehension of the drug’s effects and unwanted clinical outcomes made up the bulk of my bias.  In addition, understanding the psyche of the patients who seek this type of therapy also added to my unease.  The latter was less of an issue since I learned multipleclose acquaintances evidently received Botox therapyregularly provided by individuals who at first glance appeared to have fewer head and neck anatomy credentials then I.Also, all of these acquaintances seemed like normal people and their outcomes were as expected.  In reality, it was only due to my close relationship with them and their voluntary divulging of this informationthat I had any idea they had received treatment at all.  So the question lingers; how does Botox apply to dentistry?

In short, the education that I received allayed my misgivings concerning Botox.  Let me repeat that.  The educationallayed my misgivings concerning the safety and utilization of Botox.  I’ve since taken an additional 16 hours of continuing education from PTIFA (totaling  32 hours) which focused on specific dental applications and hands on exercises.  There is absolutely no question in my mind that this treatment can provide dental advantages.  The next question would pertain to who specifically should be providing the therapy for dental applications.

In making my assessment and attempting to answer this question, I began to systematically review what my particular “job” as a dentist currently entails.  My “job”, as I would describe it, may be quite different then my dental colleague’s “job” who practices next door if he were to describe his own duties.  We are both D.M.D.’s, obtained our degrees from the same dental school and we are both required to meet the same standard of care.  However, he may state that his “job”entails extensive endodontic and pediatric treatment.  Theoretically, in these cases, I may state that my “job” is to schedule these patients with a great specialist.  My colleague has taken additional training and provides a high level of care in these cases that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable becoming involved in.  The converse may also be true.  After dental school I chose to pursue a greater level of understanding of occlusion.  I began a four year post graduate path that ultimately provided a competence in treating complex occlusion cases.  Coincidently, often times, this therapy helps with head and neck pain.  My colleague may not report this as one of his “job” objectives.  We are both working within our scope but our focuses differ.  I believe that it is well established that while working within our scope the discretion of what services we provide is based on our education.  Likewise, one practioner’s voluntary dispassion for a type of dental procedure does not, nor should it ever, preclude other practioners from focusing on this said procedure as long as it’s within the scope of dentistry.   Which dental professionals should be allowed to administer Botox for dental purposes?  The answer is the dental professionals who have taken advanced Botox training for dental purposes.   Dental purposes include, but are not limited to, muscle/frenum pulls leading to gingival recession and other periodontal concerns, bruxism and hypertrophic facial muscles, excessive gingival display, and muscle related TMD symptoms.

Some may say that the general dentist should stick with treating teeth and gums.  Some may say that facial musculature isn’t something that the general dentist should involve themselves with.   At this point I am going to use my own training as an example of how the general dentists in our state, who have had the proper advanced training, currently involve themselves with facial musculature every day.   The application of Botox by the general dentist is not an expansion of scope.  On the contrary, Botox is simply a potentially powerful new tool in our armamentarium of treatment options.    The question at hand is,which dental professionals can use Botox in a comprehensive manor and safely maximize the benefits of this therapy?By no means is this example to imply a specialty on my part.  Like many of my dental colleagues, this is simply one aspect of my “job” as I’ve defined it through advanced education and is what I’ve chosen to study and implement in my practice.

 All of us dentits have seen severely worn dentitions.  We as dental professionals know that severe dental attrition is only one sign of a systemic problem.

After ruling out other biological etiologies such as medications, eating disorders and gastric problems, it is inherent that we address the facial musculature system which attaches to and controls the grossly worn hard tissues.  It is impossible to predictably treat the teeth alone since the hard tissues and the soft tissues are reliant on one another.  Without superfluous explanation since the methods vary, the facial muscles need to be relaxed, the jaw joint needs to be passively stabilized, a diagnosis made and treatment options proposed.Botox therapy could often times be useful atmany of these junctures.After consent is given, irreversible procedures are performed on the hard tissues.  The treatment objective is to provide therapy which will lead to permanent stabilization of the occlusion and therefore provide a state of musculature stability which coincides with this new stable occlusion.    As I mentioned earlier, the consequence of this treatment is often times a reduction in myofacial pain.  Below are several photos of one of my own cases.  These photos document the muscular changes that occur when advance occlusal therapy is performed.   There is no refuting that there are permanent changes to this individual’s facial musculature.  This is an irreversible and, might I say, quite an invasive procedure.  However, the results are predictable and successful due to advanced education.  This treatment falls within today’s scope of practice for our state’s general dentists.  Not all dentists perform this type of invasive, advanced, irreversible procedures whichaffect the hard AND soft muscular tissues.  This is a voluntary choice made through the practitioner’s involvement in advanced education.  Botox therapy, even though reversible, should have similar educational requirements.

 Before and After Occlusal Therapy and Muscle Stabilization

So, should a general dental professional be allowed to provide Botox Therapy?  The answer is a resounding, YES!  The caveat being, the general dental professional should be required to meet a standard of competency based on educational requirements.  It is obvious that there are well trained general dentist who treat facial musculature every day and we do this with irreversible procedures.  Botox therapy can be used as an adjunct to such treatment as well as others. Not only is Botox proven safe to use in the right circumstances, it is completely reversible.  The real question is, who better to provide dental Botox to our patients?  Logic requires that the treating doctor has the knowledge of the masticatory system, complex occlusion, head and neck anatomy, as well as possesses the dexterity for specific injection techniques.  Certainly this treatment option isn’t for every dental practitioner, but let’s not withhold this from those general dentists who have the ability, desire, and education to serve their deserving patients.


Dr. Jim Catt  practices health centered comprehensive cosmetic restorative dentistry in Medford, Oregon. He received his Bachelor of  Science from  Oregon State University and was Magna Cum Laude from Oregon Health and Sciences University with his Doctorate in Dental Medicine.  Dr. Catt is  a past president of the ODA and has served as an  Trustee for 13 years, participating on many Boards and Committees. He is a member of the International College of Dentists, American College of Dentists, and Pierre Fauchard Academy. In addition, he facilitates dental health in children through dental health awareness in Medford schools, volunteering at Jackson County Children’s Dental Clinic, and acting as the Project Lead for the Southern Oregon Mission of Mercy.


Out of State Volunteer Dentists Now able to Practice Pro-Bono in Oregon with New Temporary License Bill

Monday, July 9th, 2012

By: ODA Staff

The 2012 passage of SB 1509, which authorizes dental professionals who are licensed in other states and in good standing to practice dentistry without compensation in Oregon, was a celebrated victory for the Oregon Dental Association.

Oregon is now among the 39 other states, a growing number, that are providing dental boards the authority to license volunteer dentists who agree to donate their services to underserved populations, in an attempt to improve access to dental care.

“The passage of this bill will mean increased man-power at things like the Oregon Mission of Mercy. Which will, in turn, allow us to see and treat more people” said ODA Executive Director, Bill Zepp. Oregon Mission of Mercy is the ODA’s annual 2-day free dental clinic.  Last year 2,023 patients were seen over the 2 day clinic, which gave over $1.23million in free care out on a first come first serve basis. “This year, OrMOM is in Medford in September, so we are excited to be able to recruit willing dentists from across the border to help,” continued Zepp.

At the 2011 Mission Mercy we gave $1.2 million in free care to over 2,000 people at the Convention Center, Thanksgiving week, all thanks to our volunteers! To learn more about Oregon Mission of Mercy visit our website.

This temporary license is good for up to 5 consecutive days in any 12 month period, after the application is approved by the Oregon Board of Dentistry.

We are still looking for volunteers for this year’s Mission of Mercy in Medford, Oregon. If you are interested in getting a temporary license, fill out this form. The Board requires at least ten days to process the form, so get your application in early!


Fluoride – Nature Thought of it First

Monday, June 4th, 2012

By Dr. Kurt Ferre

Fluoride is the natural cavity fighter.  It is the 13th most common element in the Earth’s crust and is found at varying concentrations in all drinking water and soil. Dr. Fredrick McKay, a young dentist, discovered the miracle of fluoride in the early 20th century.   He had recently moved to Colorado Springs and observed that although many of his patients had unsightly spots on their teeth, they had far fewer cavities than his patients back in the eastern United States where he was trained.

With the help of dentist pioneer, Dr. G. V. Black, they discovered that the decay rate was related to the naturally occurring fluoride in the water.  The problem was that in Colorado Springs the concentration was 10 parts per million, which caused the unsightly spots called fluorosis.  Dr. McKay and Dr. Black hypothesized that if the concentration were lower, then, the protective benefit of fluoride could still be achieved without the unsightly spots on the teeth.  After years of observational studies of water supplies around the country, they arrived at the concentration of 1 part per million.

In January, 1945 Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city in theUnited Statesto add fluoride (called fluoridation) to its public water supply.  The results were dramatic.  In 10 years the cavity rate dropped 65% for 12-year old children!  It is estimated that fluoridation has saved over $40 billion and countless hours of pain and suffering for Americans.

So, how does fluoride work?  Studies have demonstrated that fluoride has both a pre-eruptive (systemic) effect and a post-eruptive (topical) effect.  Therefore, after teeth have erupted into the mouth, the primary action of the fluoride is topical for both children and adults.  When consumed in optimal amounts in water and food, and used topically in toothpastes, mouth rinses, and dental office treatments, fluoride: 1) increases tooth mineralization; 2) reduces the risk of cavities; and 3) promotes enamel remineralization throughout life for all individuals.

Sadly, Oregon is ranked 48th out of 50 states in percent of its public water supplies that have controlled amounts of fluoride added to the water.   In communities without fluoridation, the American Dental Association and American Pediatric Society recommend dietary fluoride supplements for children from the ages of 6 months through 14 years.  Parents should talk to their pediatrician or dentist about getting a prescription for their children.

With education, prevention, and access to care, cavities are a preventable disease, and fluoride will benefit everyone, not just children.

Remember, “Got teeth, get fluoride”.


Dr. Ferré is a 1976 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago.  He retired in December, 2008, after a 28 ½ year career with Permanente Dental Associates in Portland. He is past-president of the Multnomah Dental Society, and he currently serves on the board of directors for the Oregon Oral Health Coalition, the Oregon Dental Association’s Government Relations Council, and the dental advisory board for Medical Teams International (MTI). In addition to his volunteer work at the Creston Children’s Dental Clinic, he is a regular volunteer on a MTI mobile dental around the Portland metropolitan area.


ODA Celebrates the Passage of HB 4128 and the Expansion of Children’s Dental Health Coverage

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

By: ODA Staff

Over the last two years, the Oregon Dental Association has worked with our partners  to help families of those born with craniofacial abnormalities to overcome some of the challenges associated with these types of birth defects  through legislation. Craniofacial abnormalities are the most common birth defect in the United States. In Oregon, 68 cases of cleft lip/palate amongst newborns were reported in 2007. These children are faced with real and potentially lasting challenges associated with oral clefts such as breathing, social integration, hearing, speech and language abilities.

HB 4128  helps the  families of patients with craniofacial abnormalities by preventing the costs of dental care from being prohibitive, which often forces the family to delay needed treatment for a child.  HB 2148 requires health benefit plans to cover medically necessary dental and orthodontic services for the treatment of craniofacial abnormalities.  A child born with a cleft frequently requires several different types of services over a number of years with treatment often beginning in the first months of childhood. In the treatment of oral clefts, timing is critical and delaying due to cost can impede or permanently stunt the development of a child. But with proper and timely treatment, a child with an oral cleft can develop on a normal arc.

ODA member dentists, Dr. Daniel Saucy and Dr. Judah Garfinkle along with ODA Lobbyist, George Okulitch and Dean Hale (father of a cleft palate patient) watched as Governor Kitzhaber signed HB 4128 in to law after unanimously passing both the Oregon House and Senate.  Our sincere thanks go out to Rep. Val Hoyle, HB 4128 chief sponsor, for all her hard work and dedication to improving the oral health of Oregonians and to Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, Oregon Dental Services, Children First for Oregon, and the Oregon Medical Association for supporting the bill.