Dental and oral health care remain the number one unmet health care need for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Many individuals cannot attend to their own home-based oral health care, due to cognitive, behavioral, sensory, and neuromotor impairments. The direct support professionals (DSPs) are the lynch-pin between healthy teeth and gums, and a window leading to decay, inflammation, and systemic disease. There is an abundance of literature demonstrating that even heart disease and stroke can have its origins from poor oral health habits.
The OGC Mini Dental School serves as the focus for an ongoing commitment to teaching and supporting our DSPs in the best practices of providing supervision of oral health in our group homes. Orange Grove's dental assistant/educator, Jeanette Hames, conducts classes under the supervision of our dental staff, including board member/dentist, Dr. Ben Tyber. She uses videos, models, role playing, and other teaching regimens to insure that staff understand and appreciate the serious role they play in helping to provide ongoing collaborative health that starts in the mouth. Individuals and parents are also included in the teaching sessions.
It is hoped the Mini Dental School will become a national model for other community agencies and state developmental centers. We also hope to teach our staff the fundamentals of good oral health so that they may practice them in their own lives, as well as with their own families.
(Orange Grove Center's Mini Dental School is the first "mini dental school" in the United States to be chartered and approved by the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (www.aadmd.org). The Academy provides ongoing oversight and guidance in formulating curriculum content, goals and teaching methods for the Orange Grove Mini Dental School.)