On January 17, Dr. Paul Glassman, Director of Community Oral Health at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, presented an overview at a meeting of the task force steering committee. He described the oral health system for people with developmental disabilities that he has pioneered in California.
The system is built on a dual approach:
1. The proactive management and coordination of dental care at the regional level
2. The maintenance and improvement of oral health by bringing dental care to the patient
There is a dental coordinator at each of California’s regional service centers for people with developmental disabilities. The oral health coordinator identifies and cultivates dentists who are interested in serving people with developmental disabilities and connects the right dentist with the right patient, based on the provider’s level of experience and skill and the patients needs. The coordinator provides the necessary background information and documentation, e.g. dental and health records, consent forms, in advance of an appointment and dose followup.
The larger objective of Doctor Glassman’s approach is to minimize the need for advanced dental work,including procedures performed in operating rooms under anesthesia, by having a dental hygienist regularly visit group homes and families with people with developmental disabilities. In settings where people with developmental disabilities live and work, the hygienists provide training for residents and caretakers in developing good oral hygiene habits. They conduct a preliminary diagnosis, take x-rays with portable equipment and, in some cases, perform minor procedures and repairs.
In addition to Dr. Glassman’s presentation, each of the five information gathering work groups described the area in which their group will gather information during Phase I of the project. Areas in which the work groups will be seeking information are: demographics and reimbursement, provider and consumer experiences, existing and developing New York policies and practices, and models of community based approaches for providing oral health service to people with disabilities.