The foundation announced in January 2013 a pledge of $2 million toward the clinic that had just opened on the UAMS campus. The clinic, a part of the Center for Dental Education in the UAMS College of Health Professions, will host a postgraduate dental residency program under development.
The dental residency program is on schedule to welcome its first dental residents in July 2015. The clinic, where two faculty dentists now provide comprehensive dental care, also began hosting senior dental students from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry for clinical rotations in early 2014. New groups of fourth-year students will begin arriving in August with the start of the fall semester for two weeks of clinical experiences with patients under supervision of faculty dentists.
“Support from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation enabled construction of this facility, which is a growing base for dental education in Arkansas,” said Jeanne Heard, M.D., Ph.D., UAMS provost and chief academic officer. “The foundation made a strong statement about the future of oral health care in Arkansas and UAMS is committed to seeing this clinic as another tool for pursuing its mission of health and health improvement for the state.”
The 7,500-square-foot clinic includes nine rooms for general dental exams (with one more to be finished by the end of 2014), one sedation suite for more complex procedures and two overflow exam rooms shared with the adjacent clinic for the college’s dental hygiene program.
“The Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation is proud to support this clinic and hopes to help strengthen the relationship between education and oral health care,” said Ed Choate, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Arkansas. “We look forward to seeing this clinic welcome dental residents next year and improving access to oral health care for Arkansans.”
The Center for Dental Education was established in 2012 as a hub for dental education programs at UAMS. The center’s goal is to improve oral health in Arkansas through expanded access to dental care and establishing education programs that increase the number of dental professionals in the state.
Establishing postgraduate dental residency programs in advanced general dentistry and oral surgery would increase the number of dentists starting their careers in Arkansas, with the hope they would decide to stay after completing their residency. The center, in collaboration with the Arkansas State Dental Association, is developing continuing education programs for the state’s practicing dentists.
“This oral health clinic and the support from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation that made it possible, is already improving access to dental care as we welcomed the dental students from Tennessee and continue to move toward postgraduate residency programs,” said William Slagle, D.D.S., director of the Center for Dental Education.
Arkansas ranks near the bottom in the nation for the number of practicing dentists. In a sample of 7,100 third-grade children in public schools throughout Arkansas in 2003, 61 percent had evidence of current or past cavities, 31 percent had untreated cavities, 21 percent were in need of routine care and 6 percent needed urgent dental care.
A 2011 study from the Pew Charitable Trusts noted that children who lack dental care miss more school days, use more expensive emergency room services for care and face worse job prospects than those who receive regular dental care.
Delta Dental of Arkansas has been writing group dental insurance since 1982 and currently serves more than 1,000 participating Arkansas dentists, 2,900 employer groups and more than 1.8 million individuals. Delta Dental is the largest dental benefits provider in the state of Arkansas and is a member of Delta Dental Plans Association, a national network of independent not-for-profit dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to 60 million Americans in more than 111,000 employee groups throughout the country.
In addition to providing excellent dental coverage, Delta Dental of Arkansas contributes more than $1 million each year to support programs designed to improve the oral health of Arkansans. For more information visit www.deltadentalar.com.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,865 students and 785 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.
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