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Paediatric dentistry in outreach settings: an essential part of undergraduate curricula?


M. L. Hunter
Applied Clinical Research and Public Health Group
Cardiff University School of Dentistry
Heath Park
Cardiff CF14 4XY
Tel: +442920748277
Fax: +442920746489


Introduction:  Although placements in primary care settings remote from dental schools are becoming a common feature of undergraduate dental curricula, little evidence is available regarding the experience of paediatric dentistry gained in this way.

Materials and methods:  Treatment logs relating to salaried primary care placements undertaken by the Class of 2007 at Cardiff University School of Dentistry were examined, particular attention being paid to paediatric-specific procedures.

Results:  Forty-nine logs relating to placements undertaken in South East Wales and 51 relating to those in North Wales were retrieved. In South East Wales, 90% of students gained experience of primary tooth restoration, 61% carrying out primary endodontics. Sixty-three percent of students undertaking placements in South East Wales and 69% of those placed in North Wales gained experience of primary tooth extraction under local anaesthesia. All but three students gained experience of administering inhalation sedation.

Discussion:  The findings of this study should go some way towards reassuring those who have expressed concern that recruitment difficulties within dental schools inevitably lead to increasing numbers of students qualifying without clinical experience of paediatric dental procedures considered to be within the remit of a newly qualified dental practitioner. However, there remains wide variation in the breadth and depth of experience of individual students and it is still possible for some students to graduate without what might be considered core experience in paediatric dentistry.

Conclusion:  Salaried primary care settings are ideally placed to provide students with experience of paediatric-specific procedures. Clinical education in paediatric dentistry should, therefore, incorporate the strengths of dental school and placement education.