Over 200 colleagues, friends and partners gathered together at today's 7th annual Virginia Oral Health Summit; we heard local and national success stories, learned about trauma-informed care, and viewed data and research that reinforced how much place matters when it comes to your health.
Keynote speaker Mary Otto shared her path from reporting on the death of Deamonte Driver, a 12 year old boy who lost his life from a tooth infection, to researching and writing her book
Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America
. "It felt like Deamonte held our hand and showed us the complexity of the health care system," she remarked. Other speakers revealed that home, employment, family, trauma, and myriad other social factors directly influence oral health. The Summit underscored the necessity of addressing the problems facing oral and overall health with a community, state, and federal approach across many disciplines, political interests, and walks of life.
If you attended the Summit today, I hope the experience reaffirmed for you - as it did for me - that change is possible with community and commitment. On behalf of all of us at the Virginia Oral Health Coalition, thank you for being part Virginia's oral health community and working to improve health in all communities across the commonwealth.