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UK College of Dentistry Receives Grant to Give Dental Education to Family Practice Medical Residents

By Amanda White

 

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Photo of dental assistant Amy Simmons and second-year Family Practice resident Michael King
Photo by Amanda White
UK College of Dentistry dental assistant Amy Simmons and second-year Family Practice resident Michael King examine
2-year-old Noah Dugger’s teeth in the UK Ronald McDonald dental van at the Salvation Army’s Children’s Haven Daycare.


"With this grant, we are able to give residents a more comprehensive dental background, which will in turn help them recognize children at risk for poor oral health and allow them to promote oral hygiene to patients seen in general practice."

-- Gerald Ferretti, D.D.S., professor, UK College of Dentistry

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July 31, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- The mouth serves as a pathway to the rest of the body. That is why educators at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry are helping to ensure family practice medical residents know how to screen young patients for signs of poor oral health.

Family practice physicians typically see a child seven times before the child's first visit to a dentist. By recognizing the importance of good oral hygiene, a primary care physician may be able to prevent a child from developing tooth decay-which can begin as soon as the first baby tooth erupts.

"Currently, medical students receive only minimal dental education," said Gerald Ferretti, D.D.S., professor, UK College of Dentistry. "With this grant, we are able to give residents a more comprehensive dental background, which will in turn help them recognize children at risk for poor oral health and allow them to promote oral hygiene to patients seen in general practice."

Ferretti is principal investigator for the three-year, $500,000 Human Resource Service Administration grant, which was competitively awarded to only eight schools and hospitals across the nation.

The purpose of the grant is to teach family practice residents to recognize both local and systematic effects of various kinds of oral health problems, such as baby bottle decay and early childhood caries. Residents receive 24 hours of classroom education. The residents then put the knowledge to use by evaluating children's oral health through clinical experience in both dental and medical settings.

"Infection in the mouth can lead to significant problems in the developing child," Ferretti said. "Early detection is key to preventing these problems."


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