Current Oral Health Champions

Meet the current Oral Health Champions who are collaborating with the One Hundred Million Mouths project.

Alabama | Rita A. Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FGSA 

Headshot of Rita A. JablonskiDr. Rita Jablonski blends clinical research with clinical practice, offering persons with dementia and their caregivers the best of both worlds. She is a professor in the School of Nursing at University of Alabama at Birmingham and maintains a faculty practice as a nurse practitioner in the Memory Disorders Clinic, Division of Memory Disorders and Behavioral Neurology. Dr. Jablonski is an established researcher who has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Brookdale Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the United States Department of Defense. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the Gerontological Society of America, which means two major organizations officially recognize the impact of her work. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications but finds time to write her blog.

Delaware | Karla Testa, MD, FACP, FAAP

Headshot of Karla Testa, MD, FACP, FAAPDr. Testa earned her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2008 and completed her Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency at Christiana Care and A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in 2012, serving as the co-chief resident of her program. Dr. Testa currently practices primary care at Westside Family Healthcare, a federally qualified health center in Delaware, which combines her interest in working with underserved patients, health disparities, and public health. As a member of the clinical leadership team at Westside, she is the director of Special Populations and Pediatrics, and focuses her efforts on the pediatric, HIV, and Hepatitis C populations. She is also part of the Christiana Care Med-Peds faculty, and precepts with both the CCHS Med-Peds and Family Medicine residency programs. She has also worked to incorporate oral health integration into primary care by developing a workflow for fluoride varnish at child wellness visits. Dr. Testa is excited about being a Delaware Oral Health State Champion for the One Hundred Million Mouths Program and part of CIPCOH. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her three energetic children, biking, hiking and enjoying the beach.

HawaiiDeb Mattheus, PhD, APRN-Rx, CPNP 

Headshot of Deb MattheusDeb Mattheus is currently an associate professor in Nursing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a practicing Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Additionally, she serves as the senior practice director and dental sealant director for the Hawaii Keiki Program (Hawaii Keiki School-based Health Program), which provides health services delivered by RNs and APRNs to Department of Education students throughout the state. She also serves on the leadership group for the Hawaii Oral Health Coalition and acts as the lead for their Access and Prevention Committee. Her current grants and research focus on the vulnerability of children, early childhood caries, oral health beliefs and behavior, oral health workforce, dental sealants, school-based health centers, and telehealth.

Iowa | J. Michael Metts, DO, FAAP, FACOP                                      

Headshot of J. Michael MettsA graduate of Des Moines University and the University of Missouri Child Health Residency Program, Dr. Metts has been a pediatric physician at MercyOne Des Moines since 1999. Dr. Metts has served as the founding member and medical director of the Pediatric Hospitalist program at MercyOne Children’s Hospital. He served as associate professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatric Medicine and Specialty Medicine from 2002-2015 at Des Moines University. He currently practices as a primary care pediatrician in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, and is a site leader and serves on the Pediatric Governance Committee for the hospital. He is active in the medical community as a member of Cavity Free Iowa, a collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health, focused on improving the oral health of children 0-36 months of age in Iowa while developing relationships to improve medical-dental integration. Dr. Metts is an oral health state champion for the One Hundred Million mouths Project, working to improve the oral health curriculum at health profession universities and primary care residency programs in the state of Iowa.

Missouri | Melanie Simmer-Beck, PhD, RDH 

Headshot of Melanie Simmer-BeckMelanie Simmer-Beck, PhD, RDH, is the Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science Department Chair at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. She has been teaching dental and dental hygiene students continuously since 2004. She holds joint appointments in the departments of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. Dr. Simmer-Beck uses her interdisciplinary background in oral and craniofacial sciences, public affairs and administration, and dental hygiene to teach courses in Ethics and Professionalism and Evidence-Based Decision Making, in addition to directing the dental pipeline program, STAHR Scholars Dentistry. Her research focuses on implementation science, program evaluation, access to oral health care, oral health disparities, and oral health workforce models and policy. She has been the recipient of federal funds to move forward her research agenda. Dr. Simmer-Beck’s research has been presented at national and international professional meetings and published in peer-reviewed journals. She is currently serving as treasurer for the Oral Health Kansas Board of Directors. Dr. Simmer-Beck is excited to serve as the state champion from Missouri for the “One Hundred Million Mouths Project.”

Tennessee | Taylor Wright, MD

Headshot of Taylor WrightTaylor Wright, MD, is a family physician and an assistant professor of Family Medicine at The University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, where he began practicing in 2016 after completing residency training in family medicine. He graduated medical school in 2013 from The University of Tennessee in Memphis. After two years as an academic physician, Dr. Wright had the opportunity to complete a faculty development fellowship through The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During that fellowship year, he participated in a multi-state QI collaborative project to increase the rates of fluoride varnish application in family medicine residency clinics, which sparked his interest in oral health as a part of primary care. Dr. Wright is excited to expand this educational initiative beyond his own teaching practice, and to other training sites in Tennessee.