With the goal of helping to improve access to dental care for individuals with disabilities, Penn Dental Medicine will establish 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 deeply appreciative of this support and commitment from the Delta Dental Foundation,” said Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark S. Wolff. “As a school, we are dedicated to not only educating our students, but also practicing clinicians in caring for persons with disabilities, and this new program will be an important resource in support of those efforts.”
“In the United States, there are nearly 57 million people with disabilities,” said Wolff. “In order to learn how 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.”
Through Penn Dental Medicine’s new Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, which opened in December 2020, the school said it 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, Penn Dental Medicine said.
Developed and offered through Penn Dental Medicine’s Office of Continuing Education, an ADA CERP provider, the series will be open to all US 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.
“When it comes to accessing dental care, people with disabilities are hugely underserved,” said Holli Seabury, EdD, 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.”