Grant to Expand Care for Underserved Children in Philadelphia

Dentistry Today
Photo by Jim Rosese.

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Photo by Jim Rosese.

The Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University will play a key role in treating underserved pediatric patients in the Philadelphia area with a 5-year, $1.5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration as part of the school’s Pediatric Patient Care, Population Health and Community Based Training (PPCT) Project for Dental Students.

Kornberg will use about $300,000 each year to create new and enhanced pediatric and public health curricula, establish in-school and community-based clinical rotations, launch other activities to improve proficiency in providing dental services to children under the age of 5 years and their families, and advocate for improved oral health.

“When a child is aged from 0 to 5, it is a very crucial time in their growth to receive dental care,” said Vinodh Bhoopathi, MPH, DscD, who specializes in public health dentistry and will lead the grant. “If they don’t get access to care or treatment services at this early age, their quality of life could be affected, and it may have long-term negative health consequences. With this grant, we estimate around 1,000 more children per year will have access to improved oral healthcare.”

The grant aims to equip students with an understanding of social determinants of health and teach them to apply population health principles while caring for underserved children. It also will enhance collaboration between Temple’s Pediatric Dental Clinic and various community partners to develop new clinical rotations where students will treat these children.

Furthermore, 5 dental students will receive scholarships for the Advanced Public Health Certificate Training offered by Temple’s College of Public Health. One minority student with financial need will benefit from a dental school tuition scholarship as well.

“There is a shortage of pediatric dentists in Pennsylvania,” said Bhoopathi, adding that the project will equip general dentists graduating from Kornberg to treat young children and help to alleviate that shortage. “This grant has immediate and long-term local and statewide impact in improving access to care for underserved and vulnerable children.”

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