When speaking with longtime OHA donor Dr. Myron Allukian, it’s easy to see why he gives to OHA — his own advocacy efforts have always been in line with OHA’s mission and programs. In an era when Massachusetts was only 7% fluoridated, Dr. Allukian began a long fight for community water fluoridation, resulting in the state now becoming 62% fluoridated.
While stationed in Vietnam, Dr. Allukian was inspired by his work at several orphanages. Having never visited a dentist before, the children that he treated were suffering from severe pain and infection. He helped these kids live a pain free life for the first time. He said that “the feeling I had for providing care to people who had never had it before was enormous satisfaction. We changed their lives. It was the most satisfaction I’d ever had as a dentist up to that time.”
Dr. Allukian recalls a specific memory from his time at a Buddhist orphanage. “When we’d finish treating those kids at the end of the day, they would sing a thank you song. Now you can imagine about 50 or 60 orphans in pajamas, barefoot, singing a thank you song …That song went through me from head to toe and I said, ‘this is the kind of dentist I want to be.’”
Upon returning to the United States, Dr. Allukian was encouraged to go into public health by the Chair of Ecological Dentistry of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Not knowing what public health was, he quickly learned that it was the right path for him as he got involved in community water fluoridation efforts. In 1968 he helped change a state law which led to over 100 communities ordering fluoridation.
After finishing his residency program and training at Harvard, Dr. Allukian assisted Massachusetts General Hospital in setting up their first health center. Within 6 months of setting up the dental program, they had a one-year waiting list for patients. During this time he collected data from adults in the waiting room, which he shared with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy who visited the center on a hospital tour. He found that over 52% of adults, median age 34, had no upper teeth, and 34% had no teeth at all. Dr. Allukian piqued the senator’s interest with his harrowing findings, garnering national attention for issues surrounding oral health.
Dr. Allukian is currently the President of the Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health; Vice President, American Fluoridation Society; and Vice-Chair of the Oral Health Working Group, World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA.) He is the former City of Boston Dental Director (1970-2004), former Treasurer of the Commission of Dental Competency Assessment (CDCA, formerly NERB), and the Past President of the American Public Health Association (APHA), American Association of Public Health Dentistry (AAPHD), American Board of Dental Public Health (ABDPH), and the American Association for Community Dental Programs (AACDP).
OHA is grateful to Dr. Myron Allukian for his long-time commitment to our mission and thank him for his service and dedication to improving the oral health of communities around the world.
You too can make a difference like Dr. Allukian by making a donation today!