handshakeIn a USA Today editorial, founding members of the Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders talked about the ideals of their alliance and how it all began with a dental implant conference.

Humble Origins

The first meeting these dentists planned was not intended explicitly as a meeting about world peace. Instead, it was begun by two dentists living in Jerusalem, a Palestinian and an Israeli, who decided to collaborate to sponsor a symposium on dental implants in 2006.

It was the first time that dental leaders in the fractious region had come together under the banner of improving oral health, and once they began academic cooperation, the drive to peace seemed natural.

As one of the dentists explained, “I can’t do any scientific collaboration or research with any colleague in the world without doing it with my neighbor. We have to serve humanity.”

Working for Peace

Once the dentists had met, they struck upon the idea that they could advocate for peace as a profession. The leaders of dental organizations could come together and use their influence in their local communities and beyond to spread peace around the world. In 2011, representatives from 41 dental organizations, including dental schools, dental associations, and companies, came together to sign the charter for the organization, which pledges the following goals:

  • Promote peace through oral health as part of total health, and seek to reduce health disparities between peoples
  • Improve oral health by helping health professionals to work together to understand the causes of conflict
  • Develop leadership and advocacy programs for oral health as a means to achieve peace and well-being
  • Increase cross-cultural student exchange opportunities to promote international understanding and help spread technological expertise around the globe
  • Promote cooperative research among the members of the Alliance

As a symbol of their continued work, the Alliance met in July of this year to celebrate the planting of a Tree of Peace in Jerusalem, a sculpture by a French artist that combines symbolism from all three faiths that consider the city holy: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Promoting Oral Health in Our Community

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