During AAPA Conference 2015 in San Francisco, conference-goers—PAs and PA students—volunteered alongside faculty and dentists from the San Francisco-based University of the Pacific’s Dugoni School of Dentistry in two oral health outreach projects.
PAs Denise Rizzolo, Cindy Lord, Grace Landel, Mark Christiansen, Jonathan Bowser and Melissa Ricker, and PA students Bradley Hunt, Renaie LeBlond, Thomas Manning, Cayla Allard, Zachary Lavender, Mia Malin, Kaitlyn Flynn, Amanda Faust, Christopher Haniford, Lindsey Elsea, Jennifer Platt, Marsha Thomas, Jami Zajicek, Connor McAuley, David Zolezzi and Martha Rea led community oral health education programs at the Bay Area’s Wu Yee Preschool.
Along with oral health screenings and fluoride applications by Christine Miller, RDH, MHS, MA, Bonnie Jue, DDS, and Vanisha Gandhi, DDS, from Dugoni, the children received oral health education from PA students, who also observed the screenings and varnish applications, and assisted in documentation. Over 30 children were screened, and toothbrushes and toothpaste were distributed. The assessments identified at least 10 children with untreated decay, and those patients were provided with referral information for their parents.
Additionally, PA students spoke to teens and young adults at the Larkin Street Youth Project’s Hire Up, a youth employment program. The PA students answered questions about the PA profession and provided oral health education.
These activities were part of the PA Leadership Initiative in Oral Health, a profession-wide movement that brings together leaders and students from across national organizations and educational programs to expand integration of oral health in PA practice.
PAs and PA students can play an important role in eradicating dental disease. Through screening, prevention and referrals for patients with oral disease, PAs can make a difference in the lives of their patients. With oral disease closely linked to overall health and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, PAs now recognize it is their responsibility to work with other health professions in the “fight for oral health.”
Special thanks to the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, DentaQuest Foundation, Washington Dental Service Foundation and the Connecticut Health Foundation, who provided funding and other support. We also would like to thank AAPA for their support.
Denise Rizzolo, PhD, PA-C, is the leader of AAPA’s PAs for Oral Health. She has worked in primary care for over 15 years, while being actively involved in oral health research. She is the oral health special interest representative for AAPA.