Establishing Dental Homes For Vulnerable Individuals and Populations

David X Ma

Ma, David, X, Hoang, Dylan
Faculty / Advisor: Sheridan, Olivia
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences


In the past, paternalism has been common practice in dentistry due to health care providers having the knowledge, skills, and patients’ trust that they would make decisions in the patients’ best interests. However, a new approach in dentistry has become more widespread in recent years in the medical and dental setting. Patient-centered care (PCC) is a mode of health-care delivery that puts the patient at the forefront of all decision making and treatment. PCC is essential to recognize and promote the patient’s responsibility for making decisions about their bodies, priorities, and their care. However, in order to truly begin to practice PCC, especially in vulnerable populations, such as those treated in the Survivors of Torture (SOT) clinic, a dental home must first be established. A dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way. Since the SOT population has been displaced from their original homes, they could be temporarily living in Philadelphia until they can find a new home. As a result, the patient population typically moves from city to city, which can be detrimental to dental care. If a dental home is not established, work could be left unfinished, further compromising the oral health of the patient.


This poster will elaborate on a case treated in the SOT clinic, where PCC is implemented, but only after a dental home was established. The patient initially came in with the chief complaint, “My teeth on the right side are hurting me and I want them taken out.” The patient expressed that once those teeth were extracted that he wanted fixed prostheses to replace them. During our intraoral and radiographic examination, the patient was diagnosed with the following: nonrestorable carious teeth, rampant dental caries, retained dental roots, primary occlusal trauma, loss of vertical dimension of occlusion (VDO), plaque induced gingival disease without local contributing factors, and supraerupted teeth.