Philadelphia — The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine announced March 26 that it is establishing a new continuing education series to help improve access to dental care for people with disabilities.
The series is created with the support of a $50,000 gift from Delta Dental Foundation, which funds an online professional development program designed to help oral health professionals better understand and care for patients with disabilities.
“We are dedicated to not only educating our students, but also practicing clinicians in caring for persons with disabilities,” said Penn Dental Medicine Dean Mark S. Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D., in a news release. “In the U.S., there are nearly 57 million people with disabilities. 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.”
The Delta Dental Foundation funds will support the creation of a series of free online courses aimed at building awareness of the barriers to equitable oral health for people with disabilities and developing competency among clinicians to provide care to this vulnerable population, according to Penn Dental Medicine.
Developed through the dental school’s Office of Continuing Education, which is an ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program provider, the series will open to all U.S. licensed dentists and their support personnel for a period of three years at no charge.
Dentists who complete 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.
“When it comes to accessing dental care, people with disabilities are hugely underserved,” said Holli Seabury, Ed.D., executive director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “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.”
The first courses to launch the series are available at dental.upenn.edu/disabilitiescare.