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J Dent Educ. 2003 Aug;67(8):886-95.

Addressing disparities in children's oral health: a dental-medical partnership to train family practice residents.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, University of Washington, Seattle 98159, USA.


Providing oral health care to rural populations in the United States is a major challenge. Lack of community water fluoridation, dental workforce shortages, and geographical barriers all aggravate oral health and access problems in the largely rural Northwest. Children from low-income and minority families and children with special needs are at particular risk. Family-centered disease prevention strategies are needed to reduce oral health disparities in children. Oral health promotion can take place in a primary care practitioner's office, but medical providers often lack relevant training. In this project, dental, medical, and educational faculty at a large academic health center partnered to provide evidence-based, culturally competent pediatric oral health training to family medicine residents in five community-based training programs. The curriculum targets children birth to five years and covers dental development, the caries process, dental emergencies, and oral health in children with special needs. Outcome measures include changes in knowledge, attitudes, and self-efficacy; preliminary results are presented. The program also partnered with local dentists to ensure a referral network for children with identified disease at the family medicine training sites. Pediatric dentistry residents assisted in didactic and hands-on training of family medicine residents. Future topics for oral health training of family physicians are suggested.

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