Public & Child Dental Health
Division of Public and Child Dental Health
The Division is a collection of individual but cohesive and collaborative academic divisions, including active research and services units, to include, Orthodontics, Paediatric Dentistry, Public Dental Health (including Communication, Law and Ethics) and Special Care Dentistry. The department’s operational and strategic plan is set within the context of the goals and objectives of the School and Hospital, as part of the Faculty of Health Sciences in the University of Dublin at Trinity College.
The primary aim of this area of clinical and academic expertise is to develop the skills for the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions of the teeth and jaws.
Undergraduate teaching is primarily concerned with recognition and diagnosis of the various classes of malocclusion and to recognise which of these can be treated safely in the primary care setting.
The department offers an M. Dent Ch programme over three years. Students are accepted onto the course having completed general professional training and having met all the entry requirements. Consultant and specialist staff both from within the department and from the regional orthodontic units, deliver teaching and learning to the postgraduates students.
Secondary/tertiary care is provided by consultants based in the department at both the Dental Hospital and the National Cleft Lip and Palate Centre in Dublin.
Audit and research in orthodontics is diverse, for example, orthodontic manpower, orthodontic materials and appliances, dental education
Paediatric Dentistry is a specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence. The speciality encompasses all aspects of dentistry, recognising that children are unique in their stages of development, oral disease, and oral health treatment needs.
Undergraduate dental students provide comprehensive dental care to about 15 patients each over two years of their clinical course, culminating in a competency in quadrant dentistry. The aim of this programme is to provide students with the key practical and communication skills they require in order to manage a child’s behaviour and effectively deliver primary dental care. The clinical component of their course is preceded by a laboratory-based technique course.
A postgraduate programme is offered on a full time basis over 3 years leading to a D.Ch.Dent qualification in the Dublin Dental School and Hospital, with rotations between two children’s hospitals in Dublin. Secondary and tertiary level clinical services, including dental care under sedation and general anaesthesia, are provided by the consultants and specialists at the Dental Hospital as well as in the children’s hospitals.
Research activities are based on our unique patient populations in the areas of dental anomalies and traumatology.
Academic staff are active in profession organisations such as the Irish Society of Dentistry for Children, the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry, the International Association of Dental Traumatology and the International Association of Dental Research.
The overall aim of this division is to provide the undergraduate students with a broad understanding, knowledge and experience of Public Health including Public Dental Services as they operate in this country and throughout the rest of the world. The Division is involved and collaborates with various Health Boards particularly in the delivery of the project-based fourth year programme. Staff from the public service undertake postgraduate studies by research theses under the supervision of the senior lecturer in Public Dental Health.
This Division also has overall responsibility for organising and implementing two other courses, in Law and Ethics and also in Communications, as they affect the provisions of dental services to the individual and the community.
Research focuses on the delivery of oral and dental services, aspects of water fluoridation and dental education.
Global oral health goals to achieve by the year 2020 by FDI/WHO/IADR (2003) emphasized the importance of promoting oral health in populations and groups with the greatest burden of disease.
People requiring Special Care Dentistry (SCD) are those with a disability or activity restriction that directly or indirectly affects their oral health and is impacted by the personal and/or the environmental context of the individual. SCD takes a comprehensive, holistic approach to the care of patients, sometimes referred to as a group of people with ‘special needs’. These groups may include but are not limited to people with intellectual, sensory and/or physical impairments, those with mental health issues and/or complex medical conditions and incudes frail older people. These groups often underserved and they experience higher levels of oral disease and historically the oral disease they experience remains untreated placing additional burden on their lives, compared to the general population.
Graduates in dentistry are increasingly likely to see a significant number of patients with special health care needs in the course of their practicing lives. Their confidence and willingness to provide care for this diverse group of patients on graduation is closely correlated to the quality and content of their undergraduate education in Special Care Dentistry. Most dental care for people with disabilities is not complex and can be provided in primary care and community settings by a dental workforce with the relevant skills and competencies and the division of special care dentistry aims to embed teaching and learning in SCD within all of their curricula, in order to provide students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet the oral health needs of vulnerable groups within their communities.
There remains a cohort of people with severe disabilities and complex conditions requiring postgraduate skills and the department also offer a three year doctorate training in SCD which appropriately draws on expertise across a wide variety of disciplines in health and social care. This also includes training in legal and ethical aspects, advanced training in use of appropriate behavioural adjuncts along with conscious sedation and treatment under General Anaesthesia.
Research is very active in this area and ongoing, includes PHD and masters students investigating a wide range of disability and quality of life issues along with translational and clinical research to inform the evidence base in this emerging area of importance
Although the academic units in the department pursue their individual specialty interests in teaching, and learning, audit and research and service delivery, there is much scope for close collaboration not only within the department but also with other units in the Dental and other hospitals as evident from the number of interdisciplinary clinics and joint research projects.