The Surgeon General's report (Part 2)

By the CDHP team

The report issued 14 years ago by U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher was a wakeup call about an overlooked area of health: dental health. Dr. Caswell Evans (pictured at right) served as  executive editor for that report, and he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP). We recently interviewed him to gain his perspective on the report’s impact. This is Part II of that interview. To learn more about Dr. Evans, visit this page. Here is the 1st part of our interview with Dr. Evans.

Q: You mentioned that we’ve made progress with access for children. Any other signs of hope?

I have an overly optimistic Pollyanna-ish view that as people 65 and older become more numerous, they will recognize the lack of dental coverage under Medicare and will mount pressure for that. The unfortunate death of Deamonte Driver was a galvanizing event for the oral health of children. There could be a less tragic but still penetrating spark that ignites attention and pushes change regarding the oral health of older adults. I dream about that kind of change.

Q: What did the experience mean to you, serving as executive editor of the Surgeon General’s report?

It was quite special. The message got to me that there was serious consideration of a Surgeon General’s report and they wanted me to consider being executive editor. I was in the day-to-day turmoil and crisis of being the health officer of Los Angeles County. By the time they contacted me more formally, almost six months later, I had forgotten about it. But it began to dawn on me — there would be only one Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health.

I looked at it as a singular moment. I didn’t come through the door with all the content in hand, but I brought concepts from my experience: of the importance of access to care and the burden of health disparities.

Still, today I’m amazed at how frequently you see citations to the report in the literature, 14 years out. There’s a very heavy reference and reliance on the concepts. That’s rewarding. Surgeon General Satcher took the report very seriously. It got top billing and then it kept bouncing down the road.

(Note: The opinions expressed by guest bloggers or interview subjects do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDHP.)

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Did you know?

75% }
of American Indian/Alaskan Native children have experienced caries by age 5.
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