Chair: Amr M. Moursi, DDS, PhD
Professor, Pediatric Dentistry
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry was founded in 1949, as one of the first in the nation, and has always been committed to community service and care for the underserved. The department established a modality of nonpharmacologic behavior management and anticipatory guidance that has been a model in the specialty. The core philosophy is that oral health care of the infant and child is the responsibility of the primary care provider and through health promotion and prevention of oral disease, every child can grow up with a healthy and intact dentition.
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry has developed programs to aid in improving access and providing care to children regardless of their medical or financial status. There is a long history of working with the community and public schools to provide oral health education and treatment to children. A unique aspect of this community service is the NYU Dentistry mobile van Smiling Faces, Going Places that brings comprehensive dental care to underserved populations in New York City at public schools, Head Start facilities, and shelters for homeless children of New York City. Some of the other programs include the following:
The curriculum in pediatric dentistry is presented so that the general dentist will be well-prepared to meet the needs of infants, children, and adolescents. The philosophy of early prevention and nonpharmacologic management is used to instill in the child and parent that dentistry is an expected part of good overall health. The curriculum focuses on the anatomic, physiologic, and psychological differences and changes that occur as children become adults and the modifications that are necessary in dental care. Throughout students’ education, they participate in one of the nation’s largest outreach programs at public school system and community centers (Head Start centers).
In the first year, the student learns about health promotion and preventive strategies and general dentistry restorative techniques as applicable to the pediatric dentition through the integrated courses of General Dentistry Simulation as well as through community-based programs. Simulation courses provide the student with the basic skills required to diagnose and treat the growing child and include pediatric prevention and basic restorative techniques, while community outreach gives the first-year dental student the opportunity to apply these skills.
During the second year, students are presented the pediatric dentistry curriculum through the integrated lectures courses of General Dentistry Simulation, Diagnosis Risk Assessment and Disease Management, Growth Guidance, and Survey of Dental Specialties series. Lectures in the second year focus on diagnostic and foundation knowledge of considerations in pediatric dentistry and include diagnostic tools, behavior management, child development, risk assessment and prevention, space management, and restorative dentistry. Competencies in the area of child abuse and neglect of the pediatric patient, and prevention techniques including injury prevention, are required for promotion to the next level of education.
Clinical care experience expands in the second year through more advanced community-based programs.
Lectures in the third year deal with the specialty treatment of pediatric dentistry problems. Advanced pediatric topics included are behavior modification for the noncompliant patient, special patient care, developmental problems, traumatic injuries, health promotion, and anticipatory guidance. Students present clinical cases during seminars that integrate patient care from a case-based, patient-focused perspective.
During the third year, students begin to provide comprehensive patient care of pediatric patients in the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. Opportunities exist to develop skills in clinical treatment of a wide variety of childhood conditions. Emphasis is given to prevention, changing concepts in caries restorations including nonsurgical care, community outreach programs, and provision of care to underserved children.
Senior students continue to provide comprehensive patient care of pediatric patients in the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic with competencies in the area of diagnostic, emergency care, prevention, and restorative care. Opportunities exist to treat the more difficult pediatric patient. Seminars in the fourth year utilize the student’s acquired skills to further comprehensive treatment of pediatric patients in a general practice environment.
This program allows students to finely focus their pediatric dentistry skills through seminars, treatment of very young pediatric patients using conscious sedation and behavior management, and hospital rotations where they provide patient care under general anesthesia.
Past research in the department has been focused on the early treatment, preventive strategies, and educational models to disseminate this information to the necessary providers and parents of the pediatric population.
Some of the present research projects in the department include investigations of utilization of emergency services, oral health disparities, compliance with care, use of topical and local anesthesia in pediatric patients, developmental norms, and effective early intervention strategies.