Bulletin of Dental Education

New Education Series Works to Improve Access to Care for Persons With Disabilities

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With the goal of helping to improve access to dental care for individuals with disabilities, the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental Medicine) is establishing a new continuing education series through the support of the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF). A $50,000 gift from DDF will fund an online professional development program designed to help oral health professionals better understand and care for the disabilities community.

“We are dedicated to not only educating our students, but also practicing clinicians in caring for persons with disabilities,” says Mark Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D., Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “In the U.S., there are nearly 57 million people with disabilities. To serve this population, the educational paradigm must shift and the community of dental providers must be given the tools to accommodate patients with differing needs.”

Courtesy of Penn Dental Medicine

Through Penn Dental Medicine’s new Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, which opened in Dec. 2020, the school is leading in developing policy and practice in delivering preventive and interceptive care to individuals with intellectual, developmental, acquired and physical disabilities.

The DDF funds will support the creation of an enduring series of free online courses aimed at building awareness of the barriers to equitable oral health for individuals with disabilities and developing competency among clinicians to provide care to this vulnerable population. Developed through Penn Dental Medicine’s Office of Continuing Education, an ADA CERP provider, the series will be open to all U.S. licensed dentists and their support personnel for a period of three years at no charge.

Dentists completing 18 or more of the courses within a three-year period will receive a certificate of completion from Penn Dental Medicine as a Disabilities Dentistry Clinician Expert. The first courses to launch the series are already available online at dental.upenn.edu/disabilitiescare.

“When it comes to accessing dental care, people with disabilities are hugely underserved,” says Holli Seabury, Ed.D., Executive Director of the DDF. “We’re proud to support and promote this program, which will doubtless ensure more oral health professionals can deliver the high-quality, respectful dental care people with disabilities deserve.”

The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. DDF is dedicated to developing and enhancing partnerships and programs to improve oral and overall health and health equity.

Courtesy of Beth Adams, Office of Communications, Penn Dental Medicine

Published on May 12, 2021

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