Canadian Dental Association welcomes Chief Dental Officer

Dr. Peter Cooney
Dr. Peter Cooney

January, 13 2005 — Ottawa — The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) is heartened by the appointment of Dr. Peter Cooney to the important position of Chief Dental Officer.

Since 2001, CDA has lobbied for the creation of a Chief Dental Officer to spearhead oral health promotion activities including the collection of statistical oral health indicators. Health Canada's announcement yesterday fulfills a promise made to the dental community to raise awareness of oral health issues among Canadians.

"You can't be truly healthy without oral health. Yet, oral health has not been a visible priority for government, so dental issues are frequently overlooked in health care planning," said CDA president Dr. Alfred Dean, adding "And while the majority of Canadians enjoy high levels of oral health, disparities continue to exist."

Overall costs of dental care in 2003 amounted to $ 9 billion, but public investment has shrunk from 9.2% in 1990 to less than 6% currently. This means that public safety net programs have been pared back or eliminated — leaving some Canadians with limited access to oral health care. Having a Chief Dental Officer will enable government to better coordinate public education efforts and the collection of oral health data.

"CDA has worked with Dr. Cooney for many years on other issues, so we know he brings a good understanding of dental issues to the position. We're pleased to welcome him and offer our support," said Dr. Dean. "There's lots of work to be done — I'm sure he's ready to roll up his sleeves and sink his teeth into this new role."

CDA views the position's functional ties to the Deputy Minister of Health as a positive first step since a broad-based population approach is required to properly position oral health in the healthcare agenda. CDA will continue to advocate that this new worthwhile position, and oral health issues, obtain the prominence these deserve within Health Canada.

A recent article in the JCDA (Journal of the Canadian Dental Association) by American Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, highlights the importance of a central role for dentistry within government. The article is available on CDA's Web site at:

View Health Canada's press release announcing Dr. Cooney's appointment at:

The Canadian Dental Association is the authoritative national voice of dentistry, dedicated to the representation and advancement of the profession, nationally and internationally, and to the achievement of optimal oral health.