Oral Health Care for People with Special Needs Course

Oral Health Care for People with Special Needs —  Dental Hygiene Modules is an online, web-based course for use with faculty-led dental hygiene education programs. This course specializes in teaching dental hygiene students about caring for people with special needs. Developed by the Pacific Center for Special Care at University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, this course is designed to inform the learner about the dental needs of individuals with special needs, ways to effectively provide oral health services to them, oral health challenges, disease prevention strategies and various effective dental treatment modalities.

There are opportunities to integrate this type of education into student and professional education. Upon completion of training, your students or team members will be able to

  • Describe the principles of disease prevention strategies for special needs groups
  • Discuss the implications of effective behaviors supports clinicians may adopt
Course Overview

Within the online didactic curriculum, there are seventeen learning modules, each with its own self-assessment quiz. Each module covers a separate subject area and may be studied independently of the other modules; however, the instructor may choose to assign sets of modules to be studied together. Topics include

  1. An Overview of Dental Treatment for People with Special Needs  
  2. Online Information, References and Resources
  3. The Social Context for Oral Health Care for People with Special Needs    
  4. Community-based Systems to Improve Oral Health for People with Special Needs        
  5. Oral Health Implications of Intellectual Disabilities
  6. Oral Health Implications of Cerebral Palsy  
  7. Oral Health Implications of Seizure Disorders
  8. Autism
  9. Abuse and Neglect in Elders and Dependent Adults   
  10. Informed Consent for Adults with Cognitive Impairments  
  11. Overcoming Behavioral Obstacles to Dental Health
  12. Preventing Dental Diseases in People with Special Needs  
  13. Dental Treatment Planning Considerations for People with Special Needs    
  14. Accessibility and Wheel Chair Transfer for Dental Office Treatment of Special Patients
  15. Special Equipment, Tips and Tricks for Dental Office Treatment of Special Patients
  16. Working with Fearful Patients
  17. The Dentist as Healer
Course Components

Each module presents information in the following format:

  1. Presenter name, module description, and learning objectives
  2. A PowerPoint presentation with audio clip and presenter notes for each slide. You can view an example of a presentation here.
  3. A "self-assessment quiz" for each module. The quizzes are set up as learning experiences. A score of 100% must be earned on each quiz. Therefore, students will be allowed to take the quizzes multiple times until they master the material.
  4. A discussion guide about the material in the presentation to support more intensive learning opportunities, which may be used individually or in collaboration with colleagues and other learners.
  5. Additional material such as handouts, links to websites, or other resources pertaining to the module for expanded learning on the topics.
Accessing the Course

Pacific provides the course through Pacific's learning management system, Canvas, for a fee. Pacific will assign a faculty member or dental director from your institution as an administrator/instructor to the course in Canvas. This will allow the instructor to access student grades, monitor the discussion board and post announcements. Pacific will assist in making the materials available, enrolling students and instructors into the course, and providing technical support. Students and faculty will have access to the Canvas materials for one year. 


The fee is dependent upon the number of faculty and students who will be participating in the course. It is Pacific's goal to keep the cost to users reasonably priced to encourage maximum use. Please contact Pacific Center to discuss the fee.

Contact Information

If you're interested in the course, please contact:
Pacific Center for Special Care
(Please reference "Oral Health Care for People with Special Needs Dental Hygiene Modules" in your email subject)