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It is essential that non-oral healthcare professionals graduate with an appreciation of the importance of oral health to overall health and an awareness of their role in prevention, screening and referral to oral healthcare professionals. 

The School of Dentistry has taken a leadership role in promoting the development of oral health competencies in non-dental health care professional programs.  Specifically, these professionals should be able to perform oral screening exams; provide basic preventive oral health information as appropriate throughout the life cycle including dietary and general lifestyle counseling; make and track dental referrals including collaboration with dental healthcare professionals; recognize oral emergencies, including trauma, and provide appropriate early intervention and referrals; and explain the oral-systemic impact on overall health and be able to recommend effective treatment strategies that include oral health considerations. We are concerned about the health and well-being of the whole patient, and our goal is to provide patient-centered, evidence-based care using an interprofessional approach to health.
As a means of incorporating the fulfillment of these competencies into non-dental health care programs, there are free, evidence-based, peer-reviewed online curricula available to aid medical students as well as other professional healthcare students, residents, and professionals to better understand the oral-systemic impact on health and provide a framework for interprofessional delivery of care. The following two sites are highlighted:

Smiles for Life Curriculum which contains 7 modules:

  1. The Relationship of Oral to Systemic Health
  2. Child Oral Health
  3. Adult Oral Health
  4. Acute Dental Problems
  5. Oral Health and the Pregnant Patient
  6. Caries Risk Assessment, Fluoride Varnish, and Counseling
  7. The Oral Examination and Geriatric Oral Health

These courses may be assessed at the following website:

The Association of American Medical College’s MedEdPORTAL contains an Oral Health in Medicine Model Curriculum.  In addition to the Smiles for Life Curriculum which is also a part of MedEdPORTAL, the following modules are found on this website:

  • Fighting Dry Mouth: An Interprofessional Opportunity
  • Smiles for Life Module 8: Geriatric Oral Health
  • Dental Medicine Curriculum within the Medical Curriculum of UMDNJ- School of Osteopathic Medicine.
  • BOHC: Oral Health in Medicine Model Curriculum: Edentulism and Complete Denture Care
  • BOHC: Oral Health and the Stroke Survivor
  • Dental Anatomy for the Medical Practitioner
  • Smiles for Life Module 6: Fluoride Varnish
  • Smiles for Life Module 5: Oral Health in Pregnancy
  • Working Together to Access Dental Care for Young Underserved Children: A Problem Based Learning Approach to Increase Medical Students Awareness
  • Management of the Orally Compromised Medical Patient
  • Methamphetamine Information: Integrating Oral Health with Primary Care
  • BOHC: Practical Counseling and Communication Strategies: Tobacco Cessation
  • The Oral Effects of Tobacco Use- Recognition and Patient Management
  • BOHC: Fighting Dry Mouth: An Interprofessional Opportunity
  • Smiles for Life Module 1: The Relationship of Oral to Systemic Health
  • Smiles for Life Module 7: The Oral Examination
  • Smiles for Life Course 2: Child Oral Health
  • Medical Management Guidelines for the Provision of Dental Care
  • BOHC: Tobacco Cessation Counseling
  • BOHC: The Oral Examination, oral Cancer and Pre-Cancer
  • BOHC: Interprofessional Collaborative Care: Addressing Oral-Systemic Health Connections
  • BOHC: Interprofessional Education: The Oral Physical Examination for Medical Students [by Doctors of Dental Medicine]
  • Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment  of Dental Decay and its Sequelae in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus
  • Coordinated Oral Health Care in Patients with Cancer
  • Smiles for Life Module 4: Acute Dental Problems
  • BOHC: Fluoride Varnish: Theory & Technique
  • GERD ...and the roles of gastric acid & saliva in digestion and dental erosion.
  • BOHC: Dental Prosthesis Identification for Medical Students
  • A Physician’s Guide to Identifying Pediatric Dental Decay and Common Oral Pathology
  • Adolescent Tobacco Dependency: Evidence-Based Strategies to Help Adolescents Quit
  • Smiles for Life: Adult Oral Health Module 3
  • BOHC: Periodontal disease and systemic health for medical students
  • BOHC: Interprofessional team approach for oral health improving patient experiences
  • BOHC:Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health


WVU School of Medicine students are currently benefiting from an oral health curriculum thread during their four-year education, which started with the 2013-14 academic year.

First-year students are participating in mandatory shadowing in the School of Dentistry’s clinics and oral health will be a part of their patient assessment training. 

Second- and third-year students are completing the Smiles for Life modules during various sections of study, including otolaryngology, family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine and obstetrics and gynecology.

Fourth-year students will complete an assessment on their ability to recognize oral considerations in patient treatment before graduating.
Current Reference:
Veselicky, LT, Sharps, G., Veselicky, KA.  Perceptions of Oral Health by the WV Community.  West Virginia Medical Journal Nov/Dec 2013 pg. 10-14

The Nov/Dec 2013 issue is available on the WVSMA website.

The Oral Health Nursing and Education Practice website has content dedicated to promoting an evidence based oral health curriculum for nursing education programs. 

This site can be accessed at:


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