ORLEANS – A partnership between a New York City dental school and a local
foster care agency has provided consistent dental care to more than 650
children, and may serve as a model for other dental school program curriculums.
The success of Partners Against Caries (PAC), both for the participating foster
children and dental school students, was outlined Oct. 21 at the American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
Poor dental and oral health can affect children’s growth, school performance
and attendance, and can contribute to physical and mental health problems.
Low-income children, especially those in foster care, are less likely to
receive regular dental care, and as a result, face a greater risk of tooth
decay and myriad oral health related problems – from heart disease, diabetes
and oral cancer, to low self-esteem and depression. According to Healthy Foster
Care America, approximately 35 percent of children and teens enter foster care
with significant dental and oral health problems.
abstract, “An Approach to Dental Healthcare in an Inner-City Foster Care
Population: The Partners Against Caries (PAC) Program,” describes the
partnership, which shifted dental services for these children from multiple
providers to a single “dental home” in the spring of 2011. The goal was to
improve care quality and continuity for the participating foster children, and
to provide a unique learning experience for dental students. Through PAC, the
children, ages 18 months to 21 years, receive dental exams, cleanings, fluoride
treatment and family education at two foster care facilities, as well as
transportation and referrals to the college’s dental clinics for more complex
program has been a positive experience for the children and families in foster
care, as well as for the dental students,” said study author Elizabeth A. Best,
MPH, of the department of pediatric dentistry, New York University College of
Dentistry. “The pediatric patients enjoy receiving care from the young
students, who are very engaged with the children.”
the dental students, the experience has been eye-opening, Best said. “Most of
the dental students have little knowledge of the foster care system. We are now
graduating dental students who have worked with this population, and are aware
of their unique health care needs,” Best said.
exciting partnership not only addresses a heretofore gap in this service, but
also serves as an invaluable tool for the dental students – introducing them to
a most vulnerable pediatric population,” said co-author Mitchell Rubin, MD,
FAAP. “We are so happy that the children are getting such wonderful care.”
definitely think that other schools could benefit from a similar experience and
curriculum,” Best said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.