WVU School of Dentistry holds training program to advance children’s oral health policy in state

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dentists and dental hygienists from all across West Virginia celebrated in May when the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign announced that the state had improved its grade on dental care for children from an ‘F’ to a ‘C.’ Now, the West Virginia University School of Dentistry is taking steps to improve that grade even further by conducting the West Virginia Medical Infant and Child Oral Health Train the Trainer Program on Saturday.

“Because medical providers encounter new mothers and infants during their well-child care visits they are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in the prevention of dental cavities,” Gina Sharps, R.D.H., dental hygienist at WVU and co-author of the program, said.

The School of Dentistry encouraged all medical care providers that treat children to complete the training course, which is designed in two phases. Phase 1 consists of an on-line training and Phase 2 consists of a live, face-to-face training led by a dentist or dental hygienist that has completed this train-the-trainer course.

Elliot Shulman, D.D.S., pediatric dentist at WVU and co-author of the program, will give the first presentation, which will include topics such as oral health assessment, anticipatory guidance and fluoride varnish application. Fernando Indacochea, M.D., chairman of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Oral Health Committee, will then discuss the role of the primary care provider in children’s oral health by teaching physicians how to conduct oral health risk assessments and the importance of making referrals to the dentist.

By conducting this program, the WVU School of Dentistry is helping the state meet one of the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign’s eight benchmarks. The state received its ‘C’ grade by meeting or exceeding four of the eight. States that meet or exceed five of the eight qualify for a ‘B’ grade.

“It is essential that primary care providers be aware of the infectious nature and associated risk factors of dental caries in very young patients so that they make appropriate decisions regarding timely and effective intervention. The training program is specifically designed to fulfill this need,” Shulman said. “In the end, it’s all about improving the oral healthcare of West Virginia, and the best place to start is with our kids.”

The West Virginia Medical Infant and Child Oral Health Training Program will begin at 8 a.m. in Room 1905 of the WVU Health Sciences Center. It was initiated by the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program to reduce the rates of early childhood caries in at-risk children throughout the state. The program was constructed and implemented by the WVU School of Dentistry through funding from the Benedum Foundation.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 09-15-11