Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (HSHC), the Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), has awarded New York University College of Dentistry's Department of Pediatric Dentistry one of five HSHC Access to Care grants. This $20,000 grant honors the department's "ABC's of Early Childhood Oral Health for Rural Practitioners Program," which is committed to hands-on, customized training for general dentists in the provision of preventive oral health care and referrals for children up to five years of age in Broome and Steuben counties in New York.
The number of patients treated in the operating room for dental caries has increased in New York State in recent years. This project will take advantage of the resources of NYU, combined with the support of the region's dental societies, to bring training and support in early childhood oral health to general dentists in rural, underserved areas. Participating dentists in the "ABC's of Early Childhood Oral Health for Rural Practitioners Program" will be trained in pediatric oral health principles and practices to improve their ability to identify oral disease, perform behavior guidance, classify risk factors, provide anticipatory guidance and education, apply fluoride varnish, and make appropriate referrals for follow-up treatment.
According to Dr. Amr M. Moursi, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, "This program will target two counties in rural upstate New York where finding a dentist to see young children continues to be a problem. We will provide general dentists with the necessary training to create a ‘dental home' for these underserved children. Additionally, we will create a network of local dental mentors who will be teamed with each participating dentist to provide support and referral services as needed. Once completed, this program has the potential to reach over 15,000 children from infancy to five years of age."
General dentists in Broome and Steuben counties will be invited to participate in a continuing education course, followed by hands-on clinical training at a community clinic. Upon completion of this 12-month program, participating dentists will receive a minimum of nine continuing education credits from NYU. In the future, this model will be expanded to other rural areas throughout New York State and the nation.
The HSHC Access to Care grant will support the purchase of clinical supplies, travel, conference expenses, printing, media, promotional materials, and continuing education fees. In addition, NYUCD's Department of Pediatric Dentistry plans to use this grant to obtain matching funds from other foundations and from local and state governmental agencies.
"We are delighted to receive this grant," said Dean Bertolami. "HSHC's effort to promote the goal of establishing a ‘dental home' for each child and reduce the burden of untreated dental disease is inspirational to all of us seeking to increase access to care for all children. Earlier intervention by dental practitioners equals a lower incidence of early childhood caries."