LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – The Delta Dental Foundation of Arkansas presented a $30,000 grant to establish a pediatric dental residency rotation in partnership with The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry graduate program in pediatric dentistry and Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH).
The rotation, which is slated to begin in April 2016, will allow UTHSC residents to gain clinical experience in providing dental treatment to pediatric patients. Residents will receive training at ACH’s dental clinic, where they will focus on comprehensive oral care including oral diagnosis, oral pathology and oral medicine. They will also specialize in surgical treatment of children with special healthcare needs, including those who suffer from malocclusion (misaligned teeth) and craniofacial anomalies.
“The funding provided by the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation provides a unique clinical rotation opportunity for our residents to work in the ACH dental clinic,” said Martha Wells, Program Director of Pediatric Dentistry at UTHSC. “Being mentored by the dental practitioners at the clinic will certainly enhance our residents’ education, helping them become better pediatric dentists.”
Studies in recent years have found that Arkansas has more children with tooth decay than the national average and fewer practicing dentists per capita than almost any other state. There are currently only 58 pediatric dentists practicing statewide and many are located in central and northwest Arkansas, creating an access gap in more rural areas. The residency program aims to potentially increase the number of pediatric dentists in Arkansas.
“This partnership presents the opportunity to expand our pediatric workforce by providing dental training at one of the top medical centers in the country,” says Weldon Johnson, Executive Director of the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation. “Our goal is for participants to gain a greater understanding of the oral health care landscape in Arkansas and emphasize the importance of providing preventative dental care to pediatric patients, preferably by age 1.”
“Our collaboration with the UT School of Dentistry will not only help us increase the number of pediatric patients we can see in our facility but it also increases the knowledge-base of dentists who will, hopefully, return to Arkansas or the surrounding region after they complete their residency training,” said Dr. Steve Beetstra, Director of Dental Services at ACH.
Delta Dental of Arkansas is a long standing partner of Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UTHSC’s College of Dentistry and has provided grants to support several initiatives designed to help improve the oral health of Arkansans.
In addition to the new pediatric dental residency rotation, the Foundation has committed $2 million to the fund the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation Dental Clinic, three mobile dental units, and a school based sealant program. They also donated more than $1.6 million to UTHSC’s College of Dentistry to support scholarships for dental students, equipment and educational programming.
This article was originally published on the Healthcare Journal of Little Rock website.