University of Illinois dental school receives $1M federal grant to care for children
August 10, 2017
The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry announced Aug. 2 it received a five-year, $1 million grant to help provide dental students with education and training to care for children up to 5 years old.
The funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration is intended to give dental students experience in treating this age group and dissect the risk factors that lead to early childhood caries, said Dr. Caswell Evans, associate dean for prevention and public health sciences.
"This is a population that is underserved in dental care — partly because their oral health status is just emergent, and partly because parents and the community have not been acclimated to the expectation of such a young person needing dental attention," he said.
The initiative will have several components and several partners. Second-year dental students will rotate to the Mile Square Health Center to work with pregnant women in the center's prenatal program. Since many of the health center's expectant mothers deliver their babies at the University of Illinois Health System, their discussions with dental students can set the state for them to bring their children to the dental school for oral health care.
In addition, dental students, with faculty supervision, will provide screenings and clinical care to children up to age 5 at a federally qualified health center in Douglas County, Illinois.
In suburban Dupage County, Illinois, third-year dental students will also provide care to children who are developmentally disabled and work with children at the Englewood Neighborhood Health Center Woman, Infants and Children Clinic.
Under the grant, the dental school will also work with undergraduate pre-dental students and educate them about the oral health care needs of children age five and under.
"The intention for all of this is that when the dental students graduate, they will be much more comfortable seeing children age 5 and younger in whatever practices they go into," Dr. Evans said.