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University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry

Interprofessional Geriatric Oral Health Training for Medical Residents and Interns

Project Type: 
Elderly
Amount Awarded: 
$25,000
Grant Type: 
DTA Foundation
Year: 
2015

Oral/systemic links between oral health and heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease are acknowledged, but not necessarily used in the evaluation, care and treatment of the medically complex older adult. The purpose of the pilot project being funded by a DTA Foundation grant is to provide an inter-professional oral health learning experience for internal medicine residents and interns working with upper-level dental students in a dedicated geriatric dental clinic and ultimately improve the oral health outcomes and quality of life of the medically complex older adult. Historically, medical residents and interns receive very little training in evaluation of the oral cavity and do not have much understanding of the oral/systemic links in overall health. By developing a short didactic oral health program directed at the care of the medically complex older adult patient for the medical trainees and combining it with a hands-on clinical experience in oral examinations and evaluation, the medical residents and interns will have tools to use in practice to improve the overall health and quality of life of their elderly patients. 

In addition, by working side by side with their medical colleagues, the dental students will have the opportunity to learn better ways to evaluate and interpret medical history and drug information to allow for better, safer dental care of the medically complex older adult. A secondary purpose of the project will be to collect data regarding the oral health knowledge and training of the medical trainees prior to this experience and then survey their knowledge and perceptions after the experience and later after their training is completed.

Medical trainees who experience this training should be able to incorporate oral examinations, basic oral/dental evaluations, and referrals for dental care into their everyday practice and make the oral/systemic connections for their patients to ultimately improve overall health outcomes for this population.  Dental productivity will be increased directly by the referral of the affected patients from the medical healthcare professional who will be able to directly treat and manage the oral conditions referred to them from the medical healthcare providers.