Jay Kumar, D.D.S., M.P.H.
Dr. Jayanth Kumar began his distinguished career in dental public health in New York, where he served as dental director and also held several other positions. Between 1981 and 1983, he investigated the cause of the high incidence of developmental dental defects, which had been erroneously attributed to fluoride exposure, among children on the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation in New York. Beginning in 1986, over two decades, he conducted epidemiological studies in the New York cities of Kingston and Newburgh to understand the effect of water fluoridation on dental caries and dental fluorosis. In 2000, in its quality assessment for the systematic review of fluoridation, the University of New York, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, gave his paper, Fluoride Exposure and Dental Fluorosis in Newburgh and Kingston, New York: Policy Implications the highest score among 88 dental fluorosis studies reviewed.
Dr. Kumar was instrumental in implementing community water fluoridation and school-based dental sealant programs in many communities. During his tenure as state dental director, New York successfully maintained a high-quality community water fluoridation program for more than 12 million people using over 120 water systems, despite numerous attempts by vigorous antifluoridation efforts to derail the program. Under his guidance, in 1986, New York implemented a school-based dental sealant demonstration initiative in 11 counties that served over 10,000 children annually. In 1995, with Mark Siegal, D.D.S., he authored guidelines for dental sealant use in school-based programs. By 2010, the programs launched through his initiative had been approved to operate in 600 schools serving over 65,000 children.
In 2013, Dr. Kumar partnered with several national, state, and local public health advocacy organizations to amend a fluoridation law to allow the provision of grant support for community water fluoridation. As a result, more than 35 communities serving 1.5 million people are benefiting from community water fluoridation.
With leadership from Dr. Kumar, New York developed Guidelines for Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Early Childhood in 2006, These guidelinesestablished a basis for providing safe oral health care to pregnant women. They were followed by Oral Health Care During Pregnancy: A National Consensus Statement, authored by the Oral Health Care During Pregnancy Expert Workgroup and published by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center at Georgetown University, the Association of State and Territorial Dental Director’s Best Practice Approach: Perinatal Oral Health, a Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant national performance measure related to oral health care during pregnancy, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement grant program.
Dr. Kumar is an accomplished leader in dental public health, a respected researcher, and a dedicated mentor for dental public health residents. He directed the New York State Dental Public Health Residency Program for over 25 years and trained over 30 dental public health residents. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health and a former director and president. He has served as a consultant to many national organizations. including the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the National Research Council, as well as to international organizations such as Health Canada.
Dr. Kumar was appointed to his current position of California state dental director by governor Jerry Brown in August 2015. Under Dr. Kumar’s guidance, California has established oral health programs in 59 local health jurisdictions serving over 40 million people throughout the state. These programs are informed by the American Association for Community Dental Program’s A Guide for Developing and Enhancing Community Oral Health Programs.