By Barbara Greene, MPH, Consultant & Educator
The Fluoride Guy
Amos S. Deinard, Jr., MD, MPH is well-known in health care circles as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School and School of Public Health. While this is his official title, he is most frequently known as “The Fluoride Guy”. Dr. Deinard, or Amos, as he prefers to be called, has spent his career helping under-served children’s health needs in Minneapolis, MN communities. So it’s not surprising he was challenged by a colleague in 2005 to initiate a Childhood Caries Prevention project that focused on oral health care anticipatory guidance and fluoride varnish treatments Minnesota’s Primary Care Medical Clinics.
The goal of this prevention project was to improve access to dental services for children insured through public health plans. While this was an ambitious goal, Amos was up to the challenge and readily accepted it.
Advocating for fluoride varnish treatments
The project began with one staff member in Southwest Minnesota. Today a team of 15 Minnesota Oral Health Project (MNOHP) professionals, representing diverse public health and clinical backgrounds, work with oral health providers, public health educators, and community advocates throughout the state to provide essential oral health clinic care (see www.crushcavities.com).
Amos’ passion for children impacted by dental disease is evident for all who’ve heard him speak. He carefully describes how dental disease causes pain, speech problems, chewing difficulty, and poor school performance, affecting children for a lifetime. He addresses oral health disparities as “the silent epidemic” because it is the most common chronic disease of childhood.
Many years ago, Amos wrote, “If community leaders in Greater Minnesota knew what the children in their cities and towns endure without dental care, they will take measures to correct the problem”. After 15 years of his leadership and expanded influence, oral health for Minnesota’s children is looking different. His initial goal of implementing Childhood Caries Prevention in medical clinics is nearly complete, with more than 99% of clinics providing this service through well-child and CT&C checks. MNOHP staff and team members bring Amos’ earliest messages to parents, schools and communities across Minnesota via community presentations, social media opportunities, website education and materials, and stakeholder meetings. The work he started in helping under-served children and their caregivers access preventive care and fluoride varnish treatments has reached communities in all quadrants of Minnesota.
Amos’ legacy in improving oral health for all Minnesota children continues today through the work of the current Minnesota Oral Health Project (MNOHP). In 2016 he was recognized in a National Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Health Dentistry – the first time a pediatrician was given this national recognition. His timely message, “Go forth and varnish” continues to be heard in every county throughout Minnesota, as well as nationally among oral health leaders. This April 2020 MNOHP edition honors Amos for his tireless work in inspiring a new generation of oral health providers and public health leaders!
Learn more about Dr. Deinard’s contribution to oral health in this video: Meet Dr. Deinard. Our provider training program (for 1 CEU) is inspired by the countless clinic training sessions he has done over the years.