PHCS Clinical

A dentist treating a young adult

Dental Public Health is the art and science of disease prevention and health promotion via organized community efforts. Dental Public Health is that type of practice that treats the community as the patient. One of the primary aims of PHCS is to increase access and to serve vulnerable and under-served populations. The Dept. of Public Health and Community Service intersects with the clinical work at TUSDM in several ways.

Tufts Dental Facilities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

Tufts Dental Facilities (TDF) for Children with Special Needs (TDF/Special Needs) is a network of seven dental clinics that provides comprehensive care for adults and children with intellectual/developmental (I/DD) and acquired disabilities living in Massachusetts. The program is a partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (six locations, 1976 – present) and the Seven Hills Foundation (one location, 2010 - present).

Together, over 50 specially trained employees with the expertise and experience to properly serve patients with special needs deliver care at these specially equipped clinics (26 dental chairs total), providing care to over 7,000 individuals annually.

The TDF/Special Needs program also provides didactic and clinical educational experiences to the next generation of dental professionals, including post-graduate GPR and AEGD residents (9 annually) and Tufts 4th year dental students (230+ annually), as well as dental hygienists and dental assistants during their enrollment in their respective training programs.

In 2015, the TDF/Special Needs Program was recognized by the American Dental Education (ADEA) with a Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution. Learn more about the TDS/Special Needs Program.

Lead faculty: Dr. Darren Drag

Working with Hospital Patients

The General Practice Residency and the Advanced Education in Graduate Dentistry program are both designed to increase the clinical competence and comfort of general dentists to treat vulnerable adults, including individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, complex medical or hospitalized patients and more. Residents treat patients at Tufts Dental, at the Tufts Medical Center, at Franciscan Hospital, at the Tufts Dental Facilities clinics across Massachusetts and at public health clinics in the State of Maine.

Lead faculty: Dr. Gina Terenzi

Working with Medically Compromised Patients

As part of a long-term grant, the DPHCS is piloting three programs in TUSDM’s clinic for Medically Complex Patients (MCP):

Social Work – Dentist Model

Within the Medically Complex Patient (MCP) Clinic at TUSDM.  The Model is an integrated, patient-centered approach to caring for adult individuals with medically complex health conditions, special and behavioral needs, and complex social issues. The Model integrates the roles and responsibilities of social worker and dentist to address the complexity of MCP needs; and transforms the MCP Clinic into an enhanced clinical training environment to better prepare dental students to work in interprofessional teams, integrate the social determinants of health (SDoH), and address the complexities of oral health care.

Advanced Response for Complex Treatment and Integrated Care (ARCTIC)

ARCTIC is a new TUSDM-wide “support” system for the MCP that will integrate treatment planning and co-located treatment for the most complex of patients seeking care at the MCP Clinic.

The Advanced Response for Complex Treatment and Integrated Care team includes representation from all clinical departments, namely the Departments of Endodontics, Dental Diagnostic Sciences, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics, Periodontics and Prosthodontics. This team meets regularly to treatment plan complex cases and to facilitate co-located care at the MCP clinic. ARCTIC offers predoctoral dental students’ knowledge and skills that increase their confidence and comfort in the diagnosis and treatment planning of individuals with complex medical and social problems.

ARCTIC is an example of vertical integration of care for individuals with complex medical problems within the environment of a dental school. ARCTIC is a new “support” system for the MCP that integrates treatment planning and co-located treatment for the most complex of the patients seeking care at Tufts.

ARCTIC involves the participation of all dental specialties in one team. One faculty member from each of the following TUSDM clinical departments of Endodontics, Diagnostic Sciences, Orthodontics, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Periodontology and Prosthodontics participate along the MCP dentists, staff and the social worker.

Benefits of the ARCTIC principle includes improvements in the quality and continuity of care that patients receive, satisfaction of participating families, as well as improvements in the level of confidence and comfort of the predoctoral student participants.

Lead Faculty: Dr. Karin Arsenault & Dr. Athanasios Zavras

Virtual Reality (VR) learning

Simulation modules into existing didactic and experiential learning.  The VR modules will be tailored for interprofessional health care teams (e.g., social work, health educator, medicine, dentistry) caring for vulnerable and underserved populations and communities with complex medical health conditions, special and behavioral needs, and complex social issues. The VR modules will be designed to enhance competencies in interprofessional teamwork, culturally and linguistically appropriate care, health literacy, and SDoH.

Lead Faculty: Dr. Maria Dolce & Dr. Karin Arsenault