May 11, 2017
Developmental disabilities affect the mind, the body and the skills people use in everyday life. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) often need extra help to achieve and maintain good oral health. And they are particularly at-risk for oral health issues such as severe tooth decay and periodontal disease. Poor communication skills, lack of manual dexterity, fear, uncontrolled movements, and other physical, emotional or behavioral factors can make it difficult for them to maintain proper oral hygiene.
Additionally, there is a lack of properly trained dentists around the country to serve the unique needs of disabled populations. “Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities suffer from poor oral health as access to care is a serious issue in this population,” according to Dr. Bob Rada, Clinical Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at UIC College of Dentistry. “In part this is due to funding issues and part is due to the limited experiences dentists have in treating these patients. Additional training is necessary as nearly one-quarter of the patients have only a limited ability to accept any dental intervention without the application of advanced behavior management techniques, and nearly 40% require some form of behavioral assistance to receive dental treatment.”
Graduates of UIC College of Dentistry are prepared to provide oral health care to intellectual and developmental disabled patients.
Given the unique physical and social needs of an individual with a disability such as cerebral palsy or autism, providing dental care requires extra preparation and training. This is why students at UIC College of Dentistry receive specialized training necessary to provide oral health care to intellectual and developmental disabled patients. Part of this training includes visits to area health centers and agencies that specialize in serving these needs.
Serving at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Seguin of Greater Chicago
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Seguin of Greater Chicago is a charitable not-for-profit agency serving individuals with disabilities in metropolitan Chicago. Its personnel ensure that adults with disabilities can live and socialize within the community by offering residential services in multiple small, community-based homes.
“Our University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry students have become a big part of keeping the UCP Seguin clients healthy while learning to care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” explained Dr. Bob Rada, Clinical Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. Under Dr. Rada’s direction, students held three clinics at the agency in January and February of 2017. Over the course of the clinics, the students served about 95 patients with procedures including operative, extractions, partial denture and crown cementation, preventive, and a gingivectomy. “Some of the patients receive oral antianxiety meds and some require medical immobilization,” Dr. Rada noted. “As the students work with behaviorists and social workers it is also a great inter-professional education experience. Students receive relative value units for clinical credit.”
Dr. Rada has had a long relationship providing dental care to UCP Seguin clients. “Recently we began using portable dental equipment to provide care on-site at their center in Cicero,” he noted. “Seguin clients come to the center to participate in various activities and workshops. While they are there, they can easily have dental treatment completed, without having to travel and in the comfort of their own environment.”
Students who participated were Vivian Castellanos, Rhythm Fadia, Laurel Frausto, Sumayya Hameed, Risha Khan, Camila Peralta-Sugano, Morini Rahman, Gabija Revis, Daniel Rosales, Gayatri Satam, Manali Tanna-Madhavani, Melissa Villafane, and Winnie Wilson.
“It was truly a rejuvenating experience to have the opportunity to work with a population that goes above and beyond to genuinely convey their wholehearted gratitude for the dental services we provided,” said student Vivian Castellanos, D-4. “After each appointment, all of my patients would be smiling ear to ear and would look forward to receiving a hug, high-five, thumbs up or combination of each from me—that's what raw human connection looks like. “
Working with CURE (Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education) Network
The CURE (Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education) Network offers free dental, medical, and vision care to the uninsured and underinsured in the Chicago area. Since its inception in 2010, the CURE network has provided more than $27 million in free care to more than 4,000 patients. Students of UIC College of Dentistry participated in an event providing healthcare at CURE in LaGrange Park, IL, in the fall of 2015.
Students Dante Brown, Jihan Doss, and Mark White, along with faculty member Dr. Robert Rada, Clinical Professor, Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, provided both preventive care and extractions of infected teeth.
The students are in the Public Health and Advocacy track overseen by Dr. Caswell Evans, Associate Dean for Prevention and Public Health Sciences, at the College of Dentistry.
A total of 308 patients visited the event, and about two-thirds of them received both dental and vision services. Equipment was provided by the Mission of Mercy organization, which also provides free healthcare to the needy. About 50 dental chairs were organized in hygiene, oral surgery, and restorative sections. Patients were triaged and walked to and from the appropriate section by volunteers.
“The unique part is that our students provided the dental care,” Dr. Rada explained. “They did not simply assist dentists from the community. This is possible because of a contractual agreement I have with UIC so that they may provide care under my supervision. This agreement is similar to the site agreement at various community sites.”
Dr. Rada noted that, “Our Public Health and Advocacy track students performed compassionately and confidently. We can be certain that these young doctors have a special gift that they are sharing with those less fortunate.”
Dr. Rada found it “really rewarding to me to hear the local dentists and Midwestern University dental students admiring the fact that Dante, Jihan, and Mark were actually providing the care,” he said. “I might add that they were not given ‘easy’ cases and that they were exposed to some challenging procedures. I was really proud to be working with them. It was great to welcome our young UIC dentists into the profession at this event.”
“This was an amazing, well-organized public health event that provided essential healthcare services all in one stop,” Brown said. “It was evident how appreciative the patients were. Through Dr. Rada we were able to provide the dental services, instead of just assist.”
Dental Care at Easterseals Academy
School districts contract with Easterseals Academy to assist in providing educational programs for children with an autism spectrum disorder, emotional disability, developmental delay or intellectual disability. They provide an alternative school placement for these students and help them achieve independence. Easterseals Academy empowers each student to achieve peak academic performance, increase social and vocational skills, develop an effective means of communication and foster the acquisition of functional life skills for independence in the community.
"Many of our students at the academy have never received proper treatment from a dentist before, only brief cleanings," said Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago Principal, Sarah Rose. "With the help of UIC students, they can get needed treatments such as more complete cleanings or sealants to prevent decay." The partnership with UIC to provide dental care is so beneficial to our students, because having clean and healthy teeth helps them be more successful every single day."
"The students were really excited and kept asking when they could come back for more training!" said Dr. Sahar Alrayyes, Clinical Associate Professor, Pediatric Dentistry. "I thought they would be hesitant given the difficulty of the behaviors with autistic patients, but they were really enthusiastic. It's been a really successful training program."
"Our job is to help them maintain good oral health as part of overall health in general," said Camila Paralta-Sugano, third-year dental student. "It is different in terms of patient management, but I get to learn a lot of the same skills." Third-year student Matt Bernard added, "working with these patients requires creativity in terms of the treatment because of the nature of their behaviors, but this also leads to more team work and people management skills we all can use in our careers."
Video: Providing Dental Care to Easter Seals Academy Students
Serving Special Needs at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (ICRE)
An enthusiastic group of students, faculty and staff of the UIC College of Dentistry make an annual visit to the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education-Roosevelt (ICRE) in Chicago as part of the Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) initiative. Over 30 students, 2 pediatric dentistry residents, 6 faculty members - and even the tooth fairy! - participate.
The event not only provides real-life experiences for dental students providing oral health education and treatment to individuals with special needs, but simultaneously serves a population that often deals with access to care issues.
The UIC College of Dentistry is proud to serve our community of special needs patients at the ICRE. Services include oral health education and instruction on brushing, flossing, healthy eating and smoking. The event also provides preventative care and identified several patients who will continue their care at the college.
Video: Students Serving Special Needs at ICRE