Dental education's role in improving children's oral health and access to care. Academic Article uri icon


  • In 2000, Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General identified disparities in oral health and access to care for vulnerable populations, including children. The report identified a declining dental school applicant pool, shortages of dental school faculties, and an overcrowded curriculum as dental education factors affecting disparities. Dental school applications are up, but the dentist/population ratio is projected to decline, and the shortage of dental faculty has worsened-limiting dental students' experiences with children. Current Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) standards do not include essential curriculum required to care for children. We recommend that CODA revisions to predoctoral and postdoctoral programs include care of infants, characteristics of children that distinguish them from adults, mandatory service learning experiences, emphasis upon social responsibility for all dentists, and use of objective standardized clinical examinations (OSCEs). Additionally, we recommend prioritization of limited pediatric dental resources to young children with disease and older children with complex dental requirements or special health care needs. Critical dental education goals for children should be developed through a special American Dental Education Association task force. Only the dental education community can assure that the dental workforce is better trained to care for children.

published proceedings

  • Acad Pediatr

author list (cited authors)

  • Seale, N. S., McWhorter, A. G., & Mouradian, W. E

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Seale, N Sue||McWhorter, Alton G||Mouradian, Wendy E

publication date

  • November 2009