The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation awarded Leonardo Marchini a grant to support the final step in the development of a tool to measure the degree of ageism among dental students.
The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and the University of Iowa College of Dentistry have a long history of joint initiatives aimed at improving the oral health of older Iowans, and those initiatives have helped make Iowa a leader in the field. A crucial component to caring well for older adults is to address implicit or explicit ageism among dentists and oral health care professionals.
In dentistry, this can relate to an assumption that older adults are less likely to comply with dental advice, or their treatment is too time consuming. These kinds of attitudes have an impact on oral health care for older adults, which then has an impact on overall health and quality of life. For example, if an older person’s oral health deteriorates, it often affects their ability to chew and eat enough high-quality foods to meet their dietary needs.
This diagnostic tool will allow dental educators to develop and evaluate specific strategies for addressing ageism among dental students thereby improving the oral health of older adults.
This tool has been in development for several years, and it has been translated and validated cross-culturally (for application in dental schools in Brazil, Greece, and Romania among other countries) as part of the process.