The inaugural Oral Health Equity Hero Awards were given to only seven people nationwide, each hero making significant contributions toward removing barriers to oral health.

“Dunn is a health leader who is committed to providing critical care in the Louisville community and beyond,” said Steve Pollock, CEO of DentaQuest. “He is connecting historically underserved populations with this care by employing the skills and traits that continue to mark his career – innovation: strategic outreach and compassion for the people he serves every day. The people of Kentucky are lucky to have him as a health advocate and ally.”

Tooth decay affects 20 percent of Kentucky’s preschoolers, 50 percent of second-graders, and nearly 75 percent of 15 year olds — statistics that Pollock cites as being part of a national oral health crisis. More than 83 million people in the United States are facing barriers to dental care, barriers related to such factors as race, age, income level, language, health literacy, and geographic isolation.

A highly recognized and respected transplant surgeon, Dunn has served as UofL’s EVPHA since 2011. He is an advocate for the importance of coupling dental coverage with medical coverage to promote enhanced overall health, noting that this “one-stop-shopping” approach helps eliminate barriers and connects more people with consistent preventive care.  Under his leadership, UofL has made it a priority to establish medical-dental homes for children, ensuring access to health care is convenient and collaborative. Additionally, UofL medical and dental staff have partnered with the area’s public schools to advance health information and education programs.

“The university has a very robust community engagement initiative, particularly in Louisville’s West End, where there is unique opportunity to reach some of the most vulnerable populations in the state,” Dunn said. “Oral health is critical to overall health and our outreach programs emphasize that connection.”

Based in Boston, DentaQuest is the second largest oral health company in the United States and the largest in the Medicaid space. Along with its charitable DentaQuest Foundation and its educational DentaQuest Institute, its mission is to improve the oral health of all. Follow DentaQuest on Twitter @dentaquest and Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/DentaQuest, and subscribe to our blog, Oral Health Matters.

The University of Louisville Health Sciences Center is the city’s only academic health center with approximately 1,000 faculty members involved in education, research and clinical care. HSC is home to more than 650 medical and dental residents, 3,000 students pursuing degrees in health-related fields within the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Public Health and Information Sciences, as well as 14 interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Approximately $140 million in extramural funding enables researchers to uncover the causes of disease and better ways to prevent, treat and cure illness and injury. That research is translated into the clinical setting, where evidence-based medical care for patients is provided by UofL faculty through University of Louisville Physicians, our partnership with KentuckyOne Health, and in affiliations with other health systems and clinics throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana.