Lisa Moravec, RDH, presents at prestigious International Symposium on Dental Hygiene

Lisa Moravec, RDH, MS, an associate professor in the UNMC Department of Dental Hygiene and coordinator of the West Division Dental Hygiene Program, was part of a select group of oral health professionals invited to present at the prestigious International Symposium on Dental Hygiene (ISDH), held August 10-13, 2022 in Dublin, Ireland.

The symposium’s goal was to uncover the vital role dental hygienists play as primary healthcare providers through the exploration of evidence-based and innovative approaches. The 800 participants represented 40 countries and included dental hygienists, medical/dental practitioners and allied health care practitioners.

Moravec’s presentation, “Integrating Oral Health Care into Primary Care Well Child Visits: An Interprofessional Model of Care,” detailed the results of a pilot project to determine the impact of integrating oral health screenings and education into pediatric well-child visits and provide interprofessional education among nursing and dental hygiene students through a collaborative, integrative care model.

The project’s co-author, Kelly Betts, EdD, is an assistant professor and assistant dean of the UNMC College of Nursing West Nebraska Division.

“First and foremost, it was an honor to be able to represent the United States and UNMC to discuss a project that was completed in rural Nebraska, in collaboration with our local Federally Qualified Health Center, Community Action Health Center, targeting high-risk populations,” Moravec said.

The project’s preliminary findings show incorporating oral health screenings and education into well-child visits significantly increased caregivers’ understanding of the importance of oral health related to systemic health and is a valuable approach for increasing access to oral health care among high-risk populations. Additionally, students reported having positive experiences learning the importance of medical-dental collaboration.

“I felt it was important to share the results of this project with other oral health professionals so they could see how beneficial it is to incorporate oral health screenings into a medical visit, especially for high-risk populations,” Moravec said.

Presenting to an international audience was a valuable learning experience for Moravec.

“It was eye-opening to connect with people from different parts of the world where health care models differ from the United States. Some of the symposium attendees came from countries where families do not have regular preventative medical visits, so I was able to teach others about the prevalence of preventative medical and dental care in the United States,” she said.

For Moravec and Betts, this presentation was an important step in increasing awareness of the pilot project and making a mark on the future of oral health care.

“This is the second symposium Dr. Betts and I have presented at – we also presented at the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society’s 32nd International Nursing Research Congress in 2021, and many of the health care professionals we’ve presented to have encouraged us to publish our work,” Moravec said.

In the future, Moravec and Betts hope to expand the project and reach more health care professionals to teach them about the benefits of incorporating oral health screenings into well-child visits.

“We believe this pilot project could be replicated on a larger scale and have a significant impact on the oral health of high-risk populations,” Moravec said.