The Department of Community Dentistry at BPKIHS is committed to training the youth to be responsible citizens with eternal ability, character and kind bearing towards the patients as well as the community as a whole. Students are trained to work efficiently towards fulfilling that commitment during the BDS course and to develop good organizational skills, the ability to work in a group in a highly systematic order. The department is also committed to providing preventive treatment to the needy public and conducting outreach programmes to cater to the oral health needs of the community. The public oral health programs conducted by the department are in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) ascribed Basic Package of Oral Care (BPOC) comprising of Oral Health Promotion, Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART), promoting Affordable Fluoridated Toothpaste (AFT) and Oral Urgent Treatment (OUT).
The department is dedicated to training undergraduate students in public health dentistry to work with interdisciplinary coordination to conduct investigations on the risk factors for oral disease, their relation to systemic disease, and on the use of oral epidemiological methods to study health outcomes of dental services and oral health policy. Public Health Dentistry is a subject designed to facilitate the students to discover professional ethics as they relate to dentists’ relationships to peers, patients and the community.
The department is equipped adequately for public oral health programs. It is well instrumented for all primary dental health care procedures in the community and 12 dental chairs for carrying out comprehensive oral care for patients referred through an elaborate referral system. It operates 4 regular outreach centers in 3 different districts. The department also has its own seminar cum discussion room and a dental exhibition hall equipped with intricate oral health education materials. Above all, the department consists of 3 dedicated faculties who are specialists in Community Dentistry, an aptly trained technical assistant and a devoted support staff.
The undergraduate training program commences in the 3rd year (5th semester) and continues till final year (9th semester) i.e. for a total duration of 2 and 1/2 years. Students have clinical postings for 15 days in 3rdand 4thyear and for 1 month in final year. During the clinical postings, students receive the opportunity to examine patients, evaluate oral health status with various oral health indices and plan suitable treatments. SIS (structured interactive sessions) are regularly conducted in the 3rd and 4th year whereas, seminars are included in final year. Students are trained in the prevention and treatment of all the oral conditions at the individual and community level. They are taught to identify social, economic, environmental and emotional determinants in a given individual patient or a community with the purpose of planning and executing a community oral health program.
Patient oral health care
In addition to the teaching learning activities, the department is responsible for carrying out community based preventive programs 4 days a week. School oral health program is conducted twice a week in which a remotely lying government primary school is identified and oral health education is provided to all the school children. Screening for oral disease is then carried out and those children requiring treatment are given consent forms to take home to their parents. Upon returning the signed consent forms in the following visits, preventive treatment (OUT and ART) is provided to the children. Referral is done for cases which cannot be managed at the outreach areas. Follow-up programmes are conducted in each of the schools every year. Once a week, a Family Health Center is visited where oral health promotion is done among the pregnant women and their families. The oral health education is focused on antenatal and postnatal care with emphasis on oral health care. Screening for oral health condition is also done using different oral health indices for motivating the patients.
Primary Health Care is the main agenda of the department and therefore the department conducts primary oral health programs at Primary Health Centers. The preventive programs conducted in these centers are again in line with WHO’s BPOC. People from the local communities in and around the different PHCs can make full utilization of the preventive care provided through these centers.
Dental camps are conducted monthly which are usually organized by local as well as regional organizations and societies for the rural and needy public. These programmes have been running since the year 2000 and in the department’s long years’ experience thousands of people have benefited directly or indirectly from the various programmes. In addition, there are peripheral postings of dental interns supervised by dental surgeons in various zonal, and district hospitals in the eastern region, thus providing for the basic oral health care needs of the local public there. The challenge, however, remains as to how effectively the programs can be planned, implemented and evaluated in areas beyond BPKIHS reach.
Research is an important aspect where the faculties undertake regular research projects and also encourage students for the same. Local, national and international level researches have been carried out by faculties in the department and the same have been published in reputed national and international journals. Research papers have been presented in various national and global conferences. New inputs from these researches as well as others have always provided resources for evidence-based preventive practices of the department.