San Antonio (Oct. 20, 2003) – Martha Baez, R.D.H., M.P.H, assistant professor of community dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), took office as president of the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) for the year 2003-2004. The mission of the HDA is to optimize the oral health of the Hispanic community.
“Demographics in the United States are changing rapidly,” Baez said. “Hispanics for instance, have become the largest minority exceeding 38 million. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health indicates that unfortunately, minority groups suffer disproportionately from disease, and certainly, many Hispanics fall into this category. Although some progress has been made to improve oral health for Hispanics, we are far from optimizing it,” she said. Baez said the HDA is committed to these efforts and that in its short period of existence, has already achieved many of its goals. The HDA was founded in 1991 by a group of 10 professionals. Membership has grown to 2,600 members who come from 35 dental school chapters and professional chapters around the country. Baez said HDA programs target students, private practitioners and community groups.
“We know how important it is to have an adequate workforce that serves the needs of Hispanics, so we nurture students and stimulate them to pursue oral health careers. I am truly proud to lead this organization and I extend an invitation to professionals and students to become members of the HDA and to collaborate on improving the oral health of the Hispanic community,” she said.
Baez received a dental hygiene degree from Northwestern University in Chicago and a master’s degree in public health from the UT-Houston Health Science Center School of Public Health, San Antonio campus. She is course director of the UTHSC’s School-Based Prevention Program in which dental students engage in dental disease prevention activities conducted at school districts in San Antonio. Her main interests are community access to care and studies on fluoride exposure. She was a recipient of the “Las Estrellas” award on education granted by the Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Club of San Antonio, as well as the UTHSC Women’s Faculty Association Award that honors women faculty for their service to the community.