Collaborative partnership helps end dental fears of children and adults with developmental disabilities
Most people see a visit to the dentist as an understandable part of life that must be endured in order to maintain good oral health. But for people with developmental disabilities, a visit to the dentist can cause crippling anxiety, making it difficult to provide the dental care they need.
To address this need, the Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders at Maine Behavioral Healthcare and the College of Dentistry (CDM) at the University of New England have collaborated to provide this care in a setting that is appropriate for the better for patients, families and dentists in training.
Dental care will be provided under the supervision of a UNE faculty dentist at a dental clinic in the new center, which will open in Portland. The dedicated space is equipped with all the fixed equipment necessary for the treatment.
Starting in the fall semester, pairs of third-year dentistry students from the CDM will spend a half-day at the Center with the option of upgrading to a full day, depending on the student’s needs, schedule and the availability of faculty. Dental students, under the supervision of faculty, will provide basic oral health care on site, including oral hygiene instructions, exams, cleanings and fillings as needed by the patient .
The Centre’s expert caregivers will provide the communication, behavioral and educational support necessary to help this population feel comfortable and receive successful dental care.
“This is an incredibly exciting collaboration where we break down the barriers between dental care and behavioral health to meet the unique needs of our patients and help train the next generation of dentists to provide the best care for this ailing population. served, “said Matthew Siegel. , MD, vice president of medical affairs, Maine Behavioral Healthcare.
Albert Abena, DDS, JD, Associate Dean for Community Partnerships at UNE was instrumental in leading the collaboration for the college and said, “This partnership will increase the level of clinical education of our dental students for providing care for children with special needs, will increase the knowledge and capacity of Center staff to impact the oral health of their patients on a daily basis and to provide much-needed care to this population.
“UNE College of Dental Medicine was founded with a mission and passion to serve underserved people and address access to healthcare in Maine and northern New England. Accessing oral health care can be very difficult for many people and is often a crisis for people with autism and developmental disabilities. We are delighted to be able to partner with Maine Behavioral Healthcare and the Center of Excellence in Autism and Developmental Disorders. Training dental students on interprofessional teams to meet the complex and special needs of patients will help them understand the barriers many patients face and prepare them to work effectively with other health care providers in the workplace. ‘future,’ said Jon Ryder, DDS, MS, Dean of the College of A Dentistry.
With a shared passion for improving access to quality health care, the partnership is a win-win for all.
“We are incredibly proud of the work of the Center of Excellence and very grateful for the community support that made this dream a reality,” said Kelly Barton, President of Maine Behavioral Healthcare. “We are fortunate to be part of the MaineHealth system which has recognized the need to invest in this project which will dramatically improve care in this region for generations to come. Partnering with UNE is a wonderful way to expand our service offerings for this vulnerable population and I am so grateful to have their support to help us in our ongoing efforts to make our communities the healthiest in America.
The dental clinic was made possible through donations to the COE fundraising campaign of the Raymond Banks family and the Delta Dental Foundation. The fundraising campaign is currently seeking additional donations which can be made by visiting MaineBehavioralHealthcare.org/DonateCOE.
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