Professor of Special Education Suneeta Kercood has been awarded nearly $25,000 by the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation to develop a video-based training program to teach families of special-needs children about oral healthcare and prepare them for visits to the dentist.
“There is a huge disparity in oral health care of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” Kercood said, “and after having spoken to numerous parents and medical practitioners, there is a great need for parent training, as well as training medical/health professionals to care for this special group of children (especially navigating through their physical and behavioral challenges).”
Throughout 2016, Kercood is collaborating with Dr. Ana Vazquez with Fishers Pediatric Dentistry, who specializes in providing services to children with special needs on the project.
She said oral health often is overlooked in the hierarchy of needs of children/adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
“Oral health is important, not just for basic activities related to food intake or communication, but can have implications for secondary health conditions, social interaction, and long term care, and thus needs to be addressed,” Kercood said.
Since 2002, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation has awarded just over $1.5 million in grant funding to 74 projects designed to increase access to oral health care.