The View from Here: The Exciting Future of Caries Disease Management

The View from Here: The Exciting Future of Caries Disease Management

It’s often said that you can’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been. As the newest member of the DentaQuest Institute’s (DQI) Quality Improvement team, I have been committed to doing just that; understanding and appreciating the monumental work that the QI team, faculty and collaborative teams have accomplished in caries management while simultaneously thinking ahead about innovative approaches that we can take in the future.

Prior to my arrival at the DentaQuest Institute, I worked at the Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, MA. While at Dimock, I served as the Quality Improvement Analyst and worked on medical and dental integration within our pediatric department. The work that I did there was eye opening.  It helped me realize how the mouth is very much a part of the body and cannot be ignored when developing a truly holistic approach to patient care.

Upon joining the team at the DentaQuest Institute, I primarily functioned as an apprentice, absorbing and learning all I could about QI in oral health and understanding approaches to our work. Most importantly, I was taught the history of our popular ECC and DCM programs. It was through understanding the history of these programs that I learned about contemporary approaches to caries prevention and management. This approach is essentially one where patients are engaged and empowered to take a central role in decreasing their caries risk through the help and support of their dentist and the dental staff. 

I continued to learn more about the management of caries and risk-based disease prevention in June. During this time the DQI quality improvement team convened a small group of dental providers and staff to learn about the successes and challenges to implementing a disease management program within the clinic setting. This opportunity provided DQI with new ideas and approaches to teaching, spreading and sustaining caries management. It also provided me the opportunity to meet with the amazing group of dentists, hygienists and residents who are doing and supporting this work every day.

With the convening now over and my three-month work anniversary at DQI fast approaching, I am now looking to our very exciting future. The main focus for me and others on the QI team is understanding how we can promote our work to a wider audience. This means thinking strategically and innovatively about how we teach caries disease management while providing flexibility in how this information is learned and implemented. It also means teaching sites to use data to improve patient care in a way that fits their schedule and clinical workflow. And lastly, providing a variety of ways to engage and teach caries management either through webinars, faculty coaching, and/or online through our virtual practicum.

I am so proud of where we have been and I am even more enthusiastic to see where we are heading. There is a lot of great work happening and I look forward to returning in the fall to share with you updates on all of our progress.

Written by Chenelle Norman, Project Manager, Quality Improvement.  Chenelle joined the DentaQuest Institute in May 2016.