RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced a new public dental health education program: Oral Health Education Program for Adults with Developmental and Developmental Disabilities. The program, initiated by the Oral Health Division of the Public Health Division of NCDHHS, aligns with its mission to improve the oral health of North Carolinians and support workforce development. work in public dental health.
Designing a program specifically for caregivers of adults with I / DD living in intermediate care facilities or community group homes was critical because of the critical role caregivers play in supporting the health of their residents.
“People with I / DD suffer from chronic diseases at an earlier age and at higher rates than those without I / DD, which makes this dental public health training doubly valuable as it links oral health to overall health, ”said Mark Benton, assistant secretary for Public Health.
“Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities often have poorer oral health, including untreated tooth decay and gum disease,” said Robin Zeigler, Adult Oral Health Coordinator for OSH. “Because the evidence shows an association between oral health and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, there is good reason to address oral health in this vulnerable population. “
The Oral Health Education Program for Adults with Developmental and Developmental Disabilities was created in partnership with members of the OSH Special Dental Care Advisory Committee. It closely mirrors an existing program in which OHS public health dental hygienists train caregivers in assisted living and nursing homes.
Monarch and RHA Health Services, two community organizations and residential service providers for people with I / DD, ran pilot programs at community I / DD facilities while the program was being developed and refined. These partnerships have helped to better understand the barriers that healthcare providers face and have highlighted specific strategies for this population to overcome the barriers.
“The addition of the Oral Health Training Program for Adults with Developmental and Developmental Disabilities to our training repertoire offers another avenue for expanding our workforce,” said Dr. Sarah Tomlinson, Dental Director. of the State and head of the SST section. “Our staff consider healthcare providers who provide regular toothbrushing support to be an important part of North Carolina’s oral health workforce. “
For more information on the Oral Health section, visit publichealth.nc.gov/oralhealth.