Dental caries remain the most prevalent unmet health need in US children. Access to care is particularly problematic for poor children and is compounded by the shortage of dentists to meet the needs of this patient population. Expanding the roles of pediatricians, family physicians, and pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) who provide primary care services to children may be a strategy to address in this issue. Enhancements in current PNP education and certification processes are needed to support the expansion of oral health-related clinical responsibilities. Although oral health is included in the published curriculum for PNPs and certification exams require specific oral health knowledge, gaps in postgraduate training persist and few data document the extent to which current oral health-related educational goals are being achieved. We recommend enhancements in oral health education and research to evaluate curriculum innovations, the development of partnerships between stakeholder groups to leverage existing resources, and ongoing surveillance of oral health-related practice patterns among PNPs. Leadership at the national level is needed to develop policies that support curriculum changes and the implementation of oral health practice guidelines for PNPs that will improve access and reduce health disparities.
- oral health education
- oral health policies
- pediatric nurse practitioner
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health