Transforming inter-professional dental care: evaluation of a team-based pediatric dental clinic
Bahammam, Hammam Ahmed S.
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INTRODUCTION: Despite improvements in prevention, treatment modalities, and access of dental care, dental caries is considered one of the most common diseases among children worldwide. Significant disparities in the prevalence of dental caries and other oral health problems continues to exist by race ethnic groups and by socio-economic status. Another factor that influences the prevalence is the physical and mental status of children; this is attributed to the limitation of awareness, dexterity, and access to care among children with special health care needs. Overall improving the access to care, incorporating team-based practice and interprofessional collaboration are vital to improve and maintain oral and systemic health among children. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to assess the team-based practice in the Pediatric Oral Healthcare Center (POHC) at Boston University School of Dental Medicine. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Different parameters were evaluated including dental procedures and patients’ outcomes; screening by non-dental specialists; feasibility and sustainability of team-clinics; retreatment of dental procedures within two years of follow-up; health care providers’ and administrative perception towards interprofessional collaboration. RESULTS: Children with special healthcare needs represented 13% of the total patients, with the majority under 6 and over 12 years old between 2017-2019. Sixty-five patients were evaluated by a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) and 42 were referred for further evaluation. The RDN evaluated 172 children with 50 children having abnormal BMI, and the majority were overweight or obese. Multidisciplinary treatment approach involving SLP and RDN in a pediatric dental clinic can provide an overall net revenue as high as $25,681.20 monthly. During follow-up, only 9% of the cases required retreatment; age was a significant factor with older children being less likely to require retreatment. High levels of satisfaction towards interprofessional collaboration was reported among pediatric dentists, pediatricians, SLPs, RDN and administrative staff. CONCLUSION: Team-based pediatric dental clinic can be feasible and financially beneficial. Thus, a pediatric wellness care center that integrates general and dental care services through an interprofessional collaboration can play a vital role in significantly improving children’s oral and systemic health.