New York — The New York University College of Dentistry announced June 23 that it received a nearly $2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to train dentists and other health care providers to provide oral health care to people with disabilities and complex medical conditions.
   
The five-year grant begins July 1 with the training program programs launching in September 2021. Each year, 16 pediatric dental postdoctoral students and up to three general dentists and/or dental hygienists, along with additional interprofessional students, are expected to participate in the program, aptly called Bridging the Gap.

It’s the fourth Health Resources and Services Administration grant awarded to the school’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry since 2015.
   
“People with disabilities and complex medical conditions face too many barriers in accessing oral health services, including finding a dentist with the skills and capabilities to manage their care,” said Dr. Courtney H. Chinn, associate chair of the pediatric dentistry at NYU Dentistry, in a news release.

Dr. Chinn leads the Bridging the Gap program which will integrate the training of dentists into NYU’s existing advanced education program in pediatric dentistry, and will create new training programs and curricula to educate general dentists and dental hygienists on caring for patients with disabilities.

“We are working to build a competent and compassionate dental workforce to care for people with these unique needs, ensuring that dentists have the skills for, and commitment to, caring for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Chinn said.

The Bridging the Gap program will train pediatric dental postgraduate students to care for people with disabilities, including developing and implementing a new curriculum and enhancing their clinical experiences through rotations at the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities and NYU’s school-based dental care program in New York City schools.
    
The program will also provide training for other health professionals, according to NYU Dentistry, which will create a one-year program for dentists and dental hygienists caring for children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities. The program will also partner with NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing to pilot a teledentistry program in which nurse practitioner students doing clinical rotations in New York City schools and other community settings will connect people with disabilities to NYU Dentistry for virtual treatment planning and referrals.