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Bridging the gap between access to care and dental professionals’ training to care for patients with special needs

New Mexico State University Foundation, Inc.

Grant Category: Oral Health Education, Special Needs

Let’s Increase the Number of Providers with Special Needs Training

People with special physical, medical, psychological or other needs often find it challenging to get dental care, even if they have medical or dental insurance. The lack of well-trained, qualified providers willing to work with special needs individuals is a significant challenge this population faces when accessing care (Gonzalez, Nathe, Logothetis, Giannopoulos Pizanis & Sanchez-Dils, 2013).

To increase the number of providers in New Mexico and across the United States who are well-trained to serve patients with special needs, Ana Community College’s (DACC) Dental Hygiene program in Las Cruces, NM, will lead development of well-rounded, accessible, continuing education training for dental professionals and others.

DACC will collaborate with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), which in 2019 submitted a task force report that outlines how untreated dental problems remain rampant among underserved communities due to barriers that prevent access to dental services. In particular, the dental hygienist’s role in providing care, training and support to these individuals is essential for the development of successful oral health programs aimed at improving access and reducing disparities (Gonzalez, Nathe, Logothetis, Giannopoulos Pizanis & Sanchez-Dils, 2013).

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