Amr M. Moursi,
D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor
Director of Pre-doctoral Pediatric Dentistry: Charles Larsen, D.D.S., Clinical Assistant Professor
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry was founded in 1949, one of the first in the nation, and has always been committed to providing community service and care for the underserved. The department established a modality of non-pharmacologic behavior management and anticipatory guidance that has been a model in the specialty. The core philosophy is that oral health care of the infant and child is the responsibility of the primary care provider and through health promotion and prevention of oral disease, every child can grow up with a healthy and intact dentition.
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry has developed programs to aid in improving access and providing care to children regardless of their medical or financial status. Community outreach has become a signature program, for which we have received recognition locally, nationally and internationally. There is a long history of working with the community and public schools to provide oral health education and treatment to children. One aspect of this commitment is the NYUCD mobile dental clinic, Smiling Faces, Going Places that brings comprehensive dental care to more than 1500 underserved children each year at public schools, Head Start facilities, and shelters for homeless children of New York City. Some other programs in the department include:
- A 30-year history of providing care to public school children at the pediatric dentistry clinic for comprehensive care through a school busing program.
- Outreach programs utilizing D1 dental students that provide screening to 5,000 children annually including physically and emotionally challenged children.
- Community health fairs citywide to provide oral health education, screenings, and referrals, including the New York City Special Olympics, Special Smiles Program.
- Affiliation with New York City Head Start day care centers to provide oral health examinations by D2 students.( approximately 5000 children each year)
- Busing treatment program (since 1999) to transport Head Start children to NYU for comprehensive care.
- School-based sealant program in NYC public schools, utilizing D2 dental students,
- Collaborations with pediatric nurse practitioners and nutrition interns to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration through implementation of evidence-based practice.
- International outreach programs for D3 and D4 dental students, to provide exposure to the oral health burden in other cultures and experience the delivery of oral health services in non-traditional settings.
The curriculum in pediatric dentistry is presented so that the general dentist will be well- versed and prepared to meet the oral health needs of infants, children, and adolescents. The philosophy of early prevention and behavioral management is used to instill in the child and parent that dentistry is a key component of good overall health. The curriculum focuses on the anatomic, physiologic, and psychological differences and changes that occur as children develop into adults and the modifications that are necessary in oral care management. Throughout the students' education, beginning in the D1 year, they are exposed to children in clinical settings both in the pediatric dentistry clinic as well as community sites, taking advantage of one of the nation's largest and farthest-reaching outreach programs, involving the local public school system and neighborhood centers and programs.
In the first year, the student learns about health promotion and preventive strategies and general dentistry restorative techniques as applicable to the pediatric dentition. Courses provide the student with baseline knowledge and skills required to diagnose and treat the growing child and include pediatric prevention and basic restorative techniques. Outreach activities experienced early in their dental school careers give students a chance to work with children right in their own communities and are provided with an opportunity to work with children in a clinical setting.
During the second year, students are exposed to the pediatric dentistry curriculum through integrated lecture courses. These focus on diagnostic and foundation knowledge of considerations in pediatric dentistry and include diagnostic tools, behavior management, child development, risk assessment and prevention, space management, and restorative dentistry. Information and concepts introduced in the first year are reinforced and expanded upon, covering more in-depth material in preparation for clinical care the following year. Competencies in the area of child abuse and neglect of the pediatric patient, and prevention techniques including injury prevention, are required for promotion to the next level of education.
In addition, through ongoing outreach assignments, students become familiar with non-invasive clinical techniques for the pediatric patient, and, through an extensive technique course, learn technical and clinical modifications necessary to treat children and adolescents.
Lectures in the third year deal with the specialty treatment of pediatric dentistry problems. Advanced pediatric topics include behavior modification techniques for the noncompliant patient, special patient care, developmental problems, traumatic injuries, health promotion, and anticipatory guidance. Students present clinical cases during seminars that integrate patient care from a case-based, patient-focused perspective.
During the third year, students begin to provide comprehensive patient care to pediatric patients in the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. They continue to see children in community settings via ongoing outreach rotations. Opportunities exist to develop skills in clinical treatment of a wide variety of childhood conditions. Emphasis is given to a disease prevention philosophy and practicing conservative management of dental caries.
Senior students continue to provide comprehensive patient care of pediatric patients in the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic with competencies in the area of diagnostic, prevention, and restorative care. Opportunities exist to treat the more difficult pediatric patient. Seminars in the fourth year utilize the student's advanced skills to further comprehensive treatment of pediatric patients in a general practice environment. Fourth year students also provide treatment on our mobile dental clinic at public schools and Head Start centers.
Pediatric Dentistry Honors Program: This competitive program allows selected students to expand their focus on advanced pediatric dentistry topics and skills through a weekly seminar series and extra clinic sessions where students treat more complex cases. The seminar helps the students to develop a structured, ordered approach to diagnosis and treatment planning, utilizing complex radiographic and clinical images to challenge them.
Past research in the department has been focused on early treatment, preventive strategies, and educational models to disseminate this information to the necessary providers and parents of the pediatric population. There have been several funded demonstration programs including the Infant Oral Health, Partners in Prevention, and "Playing it Safe" programs.
Current research projects in the department include a wide scope of topics such as surveillance and demographics of targeted populations, impact of dental outreach on dental students and residents, therapeutic regimens for the prevention, remineralization and arresting of dental caries, oral health disparities in New York City, effective strategies to reduce smoking in adolescents, use of topical and local anesthesia in pediatric patients, effective early intervention strategies, and the impact of utilizing nurse practitioners and nutrition interns as part of the pediatric dental team.