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New Pennsylvania Dental Association President Will Focus on Improving Access to Care

Dr. Thomas Gamba of Philadelphia to continue PDA's efforts to improve

patient access

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) recently installed Dr. Thomas W. Gamba of Philadelphia as its new president. Dr. Gamba, who served as president-elect for the past year, said improving patient access to oral health services will continue to be a major focus of the organization.

"All Pennsylvanians deserve access to quality dental health care," Dr. Gamba said. "The Pennsylvania Dental Association is working with the General Assembly on several efforts to improve access to oral health services throughout the Commonwealth."

Dr. Gamba said the PDA is supporting legislation (HB 1649) that would require water systems with 500 or more customers to adjust the levels of naturally occurring fluoride in their water in an effort to improve the oral health of Pennsylvanians. Currently, only about half the population of Pennsylvania is served by water systems with the optimal level of fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Sixty years of scientific studies have proven that fluoride prevents tooth decay and is safe to consume.

"It costs a community between 50 cents and $3 per person per year to fluoridate the water to protect people from tooth decay. For most communities, every $1 spent on fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs," Dr. Gamba said.

In addition to fluoridation, Dr. Gamba said the PDA is supporting the following legislative efforts to improve access to quality dental health care:

Requiring Insurers to Cover Anesthesia for Children and Special Needs Patients. PDA advocates requiring insurers to cover general anesthesia for young children and special needs patients who cannot receive treatment in dental offices. Twenty nine other states require this coverage to ensure that the most vulnerable patients receive dental care.

Increasing Funding for Student Loans. Pennsylvania's student loan forgiveness program currently reimburses dentists serving in underserved areas as much as $64,000 over four years. However, the debt load for dental students is estimated to be $162,000 and higher. PDA believes more funding in the student loan forgiveness program will attract more dentists to rural and urban areas that are underserved.

Expanding Dental Services. The PDA is seeking an expansion of duties for certified dental assistants and expanded function dental assistants. This shift would allow dentists to treat more patients, increasing access to dental services throughout the Commonwealth. Kansas, which passed a similar law in 1998, found that more patients were able to receive dental care.

"Oral health is a key component to ensuring healthy people, both children and adults," said Dr. Gamba. "As President of the Pennsylvania Dental Association, I look forward to working with lawmakers and health organizations to improve access to quality dental care in our communities."

A graduate of Villanova University and Temple University's School of Dentistry, Dr. Gamba joined his father's practice in Philadelphia where they worked together until his father retired in 1985 after 51 years of practice. In 1981, Dr. Gamba was awarded a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry, signifying over 500 hours of post-graduate, continuing education in various phases of dentistry. He has been a clinical instructor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and has lectured in practice management at Temple University's School of Dentistry. He is also the consulting dentist for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Dr. Gamba serves on the American Dental Association Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs. Some of the offices he has held include President of the Philadelphia County Dental Society, Chairman of the Board of the Liberty Dental Conference, Council on Annual Sessions of the American Dental Association and Speaker of the House of the Pennsylvania Dental Association. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists.

Dr. Gamba and his wife, Cynthia, have been married since 1971 and have two grown children. They have lived in South Philadelphia all their lives and are active in their church, as well as in civic and charitable organizations.

For more information on the PDA, visit

SOURCE Pennsylvania Dental Association
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