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Improving the oral health of adults with special needs proves challenging
Date:7/31/2012

BOSTON (August 1, 2012) -- A comprehensive study using electronic dental records to profile the oral health status of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) has concluded that access to specialized dental care alone is not sufficient to meet the community's substantial oral health needs. The findings, published as the cover article in the August issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, provide a foundation for further investigation into the significant oral health needs of adults with I/DD and the development of preventive oral health strategies.

The study of dental records of 4,732 people, led by dentists and public health professionals at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) and Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM), was conducted at the Tufts Dental Facilities Serving People with Special Needs (TDF), a network of Massachusetts dental clinics that provides oral health care to people with disabilities.

Each year, Tufts' program, which is recognized by the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors as a national model, serves more than 7,000 patients at seven clinics in Massachusetts. The findings released today are the first of a three-part study conducted by principal investigators John Morgan, D.D.S., associate professor in the department of public health and community service at TUSDM, and Paula Minihan, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in the department of public health and community medicine at TUSM.

"People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to have poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease and untreated tooth decay than the general population," said Morgan. "Our findings highlight the need for greater awareness of the unique and complex dental health care needs of this population. The roles of the patient, care giver and dental provider are all vital in developing preventive strategies to improve oral health."


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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
siobhan.gallagher@tufts.edu
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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