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Study Brings Pediatric Dentists, Cardiologists Together

Friday, March 28, 2014 - 12:46pm

UT School of Dentistry pediatric dentistry resident Sabrina Sunderji, DDS, and Department Chair Gary Badger, DDS (far left) confer with cardiology residents at Texas Children’s Hospital. Photo by Rhonda Whitmeyer.

UT School of Dentistry pediatric dentistry resident Sabrina Sunderji, DDS, and Department Chair Gary Badger, DDS (far left) confer with cardiology residents at Texas Children’s Hospital. Photo by Rhonda Whitmeyer.

A new, grant-funded collaboration between The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston and Texas Children’s Hospital is bringing pediatric dentistry residents together with cardiology residents and fellows to enhance mutual understanding and improve patient outcomes.

Now through May, UTSD residents and cardiology residents will see patients together one or two days a week, with each discipline observing the other as diagnoses are made and treatment plans developed. 

“Our residents will assist the cardiology fellows and pediatric residents in learning to orally evaluate congenital heart disease patients for caries risk and to diagnose other oral conditions,” said Gary Badger, DDS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at UTSD.

“In exchange, our residents will learn what factors are involved in diagnosing and treating patients with congenital heart disease.”

Badger and Texas Children’s pediatric cardiologist Keila Lopez, MD, and pediatric dentist Esther Yang, DDS, are collaborating on the project, which is funded by a grant through Jeffrey Spike, PhD, of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Lopez came to the School of Dentistry to lecture to pediatric dentistry residents about congenital heart disease, and Badger and Assistant Professor Fehmida Dosani, DDS, MS, have in turn lectured to the cardiology residents about pediatric dentistry.

Pediatric dentistry resident Sabrina Sunderji, DDS, and Pediatric Dentistry Department Chair Gary Badger, DDS, at Texas Children’s Hospital this week.

Pediatric dentistry resident Sabrina Sunderji, DDS, and Pediatric Dentistry Department Chair Gary Badger, DDS, at Texas Children’s Hospital. Photo by Rhonda Whitmeyer.

Oral infections pose special risks for heart patients, especially when undergoing surgery. Bacteria from the mouth can infect the heart via the bloodstream.

Pre- and post-tests are part of the study, which will attempt measure changes in each discipline’s knowledge of the other.  “We want to know what have they learned, and whether they’re willing to apply that knowledge in practice,” Badger said.

Patient outcomes also will be analyzed to see if the oral health information given to parents has an effect.