Longtime public health dentist Major W. Tappan dies

Longtime Denver public health dentist Major W. Tappan, DDS, has died.

Dr. Tappan was a well-respected leader in Colorado's dental public health community and was one of the few dentists of color in a leadership role. He died November 13 in Denver after a brief illness at age 89, according to a Colorado obituary notice.

Dr. Tappan served as vice president of the National Network for Oral Health Access for 14 years and was a leading advocate for the inclusion of dental health in community health centers.

A native of Chester, PA, Dr. Tappan received his undergraduate and Doctor of Dentistry degrees at Howard University in Washington, DC, and received his master's degree in public health at Columbia University.

After serving as a dentist in the U.S. army in Korea, Dr. Tappan became director of the Dental Neighborhood Health program of Denver Health and Hospitals. After he retired from Denver Health in his 70s, Dr. Tappan opened the Dental Access Center to serve the underserved children of Denver.

He was one of the earliest advocates of sealants in children's teeth in the country and began applying them in the 1970s. Dr. Tappan received numerous community awards, including the Colorado Dental Association's Exceptional Service Award in 2008 for his dedication to children and his community and also the Myron Allukian Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievements in Community Dental Programs by the American Association for Community Dental Programs. In addition, he received the Dr. Bernard F. Gipson Sr. Health Leadership Award from the Center for African American Health.

Dr. Tappan also served on the board of directors for the Salud Family Health Centers in Fort Collins, CO.

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