Disparities in untreated dental caries and access to dental care in US children still exist, especially for children under five. The pediatric dental workforce alone is not sufficient to alleviate these needs. General dentists, who make the majority of the dental workforce in the US, if trained clinically, understand the social determinants of health, and possess appropriate cultural competency skills, can promote oral health, reduce risk, and treat young children.
To address this issue, the Health Services Resources Administration (HRSA) funded the “Pediatric Patient Care, Population Health, and Community Based Training (PPCT)” Project for Dental Students proposed by Dr. Vinodh Bhoopathi., BDS, MPH, DScD, Assistant Professor at Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry (TUKSoD). The primary goal was to develop and implement new and enhanced curricula, community-based clinical rotations, and other activities to improve dental students’ proficiency in providing culturally competent dental care services to the children under five, their families and address social determinants of health while treating all patient groups.
Through this project, TUKSoD has added new and enhanced pediatric dental, pediatric medical and public health lectures to the existing dental school curriculum. New and enhanced clinical rotations have been organized and implemented for the final year dental students within the pediatric dental clinic at TUKSoD, at Head start/early head start programs, and at other community based clinical sites. TUKSoD collaborated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)’s pediatric and family medicine outpatient departments to develop new clinical rotations where dental students work along with PCOM medical students to understand the health care needs of children under the age of 5. A new "Oral Health Advocacy Toolkit" and a “Nutrition Counseling and Obesity Prevention” handbook to train dental and dental hygiene students have been developed. Through this funding multiple dental school tuition scholarships for financially disadvantaged dental students have been created and awarded.