VCU receives $2.4 million to strengthen dental care access and pediatric dentistry training
The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry has received a $2.4 million federal grant to introduce an innovative new curriculum, purchase new dental technology, and build on its ongoing efforts to treat at-risk pediatric patients.
The five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration will fund the development of a new interprofessional curriculum, provide funds for teledentistry equipment, and expand the pediatric dental residency program at two clinical care sites.
“The grant will help initiate a curriculum that integrates interprofessional education and collaborative care into the pediatric dentistry residency training program, with an emphasis on treating low-income populations and children with complex health care needs,” said Tegwyn H. Brickhouse, D.D.S., Ph.D., department chair, research director and associate professor, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, VCU School of Dentistry.
Through the new interprofessional curriculum, pediatric dentistry residents will have the opportunity to participate in the VCU Center for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Care’s educational programs while providing dental care for children at various clinical sites. Students will provide care at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and the Piedmont Regional Dental Center, which is a safety net dental practice in Orange, Virginia. The grant also covers the cost of dental technology equipment such as a digital X-ray and an intra-oral video camera. The new technology will enable pediatric dentistry residents to provide consultation services for children at rural sites without necessitating a trip to a dental office.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, the CDC has found that the number of children with tooth decay in baby teeth is increasing. The percentage of children and adolescents aged 5-to-9 years with untreated tooth decay is twice as high for those from low-income families compared with children from higher-income households, according to the CDC. Through interprofessional education, collaborative clinical training, and innovative use of dental technology, the residents and pediatric dentists at the VCU School of Dentistry will work to bridge that gap over the next five years.
“The hope is that we will be able to reach the approximately 50 percent of low-income children in Virginia who are not yet seeing a dentist,” Brickhouse said.
In February, students and faculty at the VCU School of Dentistry provided free dental services for more than 200 children in need of dental care who did not have dental insurance at the school’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day. The VCU Dental Care pediatric dental practice provides year-round specialty dental care for children from birth to age 18.