Interprofessional Practice in Action: Dental Medicine and Occupational Therapy Optimize Comfort and Visit Success for Patients with Intellectual And/or Developmental Disabilities
Individuals with intellectual and / or developmental disabilities (IDD) face many barriers to receiving healthcare. Difficulty with sensory processing, motor control, and behavioral expression present barriers to quality dental and health care (Raymaker et al., 2017; Stein-Duker et al., 2019). Occupational therapy practitioners possess unique skills to provide sensory and positioning adaptations, behavioral suggestions, and environmental modifications, prior to and during dental services. Research indicates receiving services in a Sensory Adapted Dental Environment (SADE) decreases anxiety among children with and without autism and increased the amount of time children with autism were able to stay in the dental chair to receive care (Cermak et al., 2015)
We will discuss development of an interprofessional program with occupational therapy level II fieldwork students embedded within a dental office. This program has been successfully implemented at University Pediatric Dentistry (UPD) in Buffalo, NY, since January, 2021. UPD operates eight offices around Western New York, include a main office that serves individuals from diverse and frequently underserved racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and hosts a program for individuals with IDD. Initially under the supervision of University at Buffalo faculty, occupational therapy students placed at the dental office researched evidence and best practice for this population. They then developed a mechanism for caregiver interviews, implemented sensory and positioning modifications, created behavioral interventions for patients, and collaborated with dental practitioners on the best ways to increase comfort and success of the visit. Students also developed a successful interprofessional online lecture and discussion for second-year dental students regarding working with individuals with IDD. Eventually, the program grew to include occupational therapy students and faculty from D’Youville University in Buffalo NY, who continued to provide dental practitioner collaboration and patient care and added a sensory-friendly preparation room and social stories. Today, University Pediatric Dentistry employs a full-time occupational therapist who oversees the program and supervises students.
Moving from interprofessional education discussions to implementing interprofessional practice has been a systematic process. We will describe the development of the placement, student and faculty responsibilities, patient collaborations, challenges with reimbursement, and current state of the collaboration.
This presentation is appropriate for both faculty and practitioners and can be applied beyond the dental office. Faculty participating in this presentation will be challenged to consider intercollegiate collaborations and non-traditional settings. Practitioners will reflect on their own practice to consider how they address the individualized needs of those with ID/DD. Participants will be invited to apply the model used in this dental setting to their own practice, as we highlight how this model can be used as a framework in other health care settings such as family medicine, emergency department, OB/GYN, and otolaryngology to improve comfort in primary care for all individuals.
After attending this session, the learner will be able to:
1. Identify role of OT practitioners in a dental and medical offices.
2. Discuss the benefits of OT and dental practitioner collaboration.
3. Identify steps of developing an interprofessional fieldwork placement.