April 29, 2010
Contact: (717) 234-5941
Pennsylvania Dental Association Installs New President
Dr. William T. Spruill of Carlisle will continue PDA’s efforts to make sure patients have access to quality oral health care
The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) recently installed Dr. William T. Spruill of Carlisle as its new president at its 142nd Annual Session. Dr. Spruill, who will serve a one-year term, said PDA has made strides in improving patient access to oral health care services and he wants to build upon those successes.
Dr. Spruill noted that the General Assembly recently passed a bill that would allow specially trained dental assistants, known as Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDAs), to perform more duties. These expanded activities include polishing teeth, applying fluoride treatments, and taking impressions for athletic mouth guards. By allowing assistants to perform these additional duties, dentists and hygienists are free to deliver more advanced dental care to a greater number of patients.
Gov. Ed Rendell has signed the bill into law.
“PDA is working with state lawmakers and other health care organizations to ensure that as many Pennsylvanians as possible have access to quality oral health care,” said Dr. Spruill. “Good oral health is vital in a person’s overall well being. For example, a child with pain from tooth decay cannot concentrate in school. An adult with poor oral hygiene or missing teeth may be hampered in his or her profession.”
Dr. Spruill said PDA supports other legislation that would improve access to oral health care, including HB 1049, a bill that would require health insurers to provide general anesthesia for special needs patients and children under five years old. Currently insurance providers are allowed to deny coverage for general anesthesia for dental services. Many young children and special-needs patients require anesthesia for dental procedures. Denying coverage for anesthesia could result in denying access for oral health services for young children and special-needs patients.
Dr. Spruill also noted the importance of increasing funding for dental student loans. Pennsylvania’s student loan forgiveness program currently reimburses dentists practicing in underserved areas as much as $64,000 over four years. The total debt for dental students, however, can be $162,000 or higher. PDA supports Senate Bill 527, which would cover the entire cost of a student’s loan or raise reimbursement from $64,000 to $75,000—whichever is less. Spruill explained that taking this step will attract more dentists to underserved areas.
PDA also supports HB 1382, legislation that would require public water systems to offer the optimal level of fluoride to prevent dental cavities. For the past 60 years, studies have shown that the proper amount of fluoride can reduce cavities by 20 to 40 percent. It is a low-cost way to prevent disease and reduce the need for dental procedures.
Since 1980, Dr. Spruill has practiced dentistry at the office he shares with his wife, Dr. Lillian Wong. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. Dr. Spruill served in the U.S. Army Dental Corps from 1977-1980. Dr. Spruill is Clinical Adjunct Faculty at Harrisburg Area Community College, where he has been a Clinical Instructor for both the Dental Hygiene and Expanded Function Dental Assistant programs.