Scientific Program – Friday, May 24, 2019

  • Speaker: Dr. David Clark
  • Program: “Psychiatric Illness and Dentistry: Challenges to Oral Care”
  • Date: Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Time: 8:30am – 1:30pm (5 hrs.)
  • Venue: Oak Bay Beach Hotel
  • Registration: opens at 7:45am
  • Snack Break: 10:30-11:00am

“Psychiatric Illness and Dentistry: Challenges to Oral Care” Description:

Psychiatric illnesses and their medical management carry significant risks for oral disease. Although common, diseases such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders remain in many cases unrecognized, misunderstood, or often undertreated. Mental illness and the resulting disabilities create difficulties not only for the patient but also for one’s family and friends, not the least of which remains highly stigmatized nature of the disease itself. Understanding the type, severity, stage of these diseases, along with a patient’s own mood, motivation and personal perceptions of oral disease and lifestyle can enhance the knowledge of dental professionals concerning this critical aspect of a patient’s medical history and further illustrates how closely mental health and oral health are intertwined.

Mental illness must be viewed from a similar perspective as are other major diseases. Dental professionals should be aware of factors such as the reduced rates of compliance with dental treatment, the reduced ability to access oral health care, the effects of various psychotropic medications on oral health including xerostomia, caries and periodontal disease and the potential interactions with drugs used in dental practice.

Patients with psychiatric illness often bring unique needs and differing priorities to a dental practice, and the dental health practitioner must in turn demonstrate patience, flexibility, empathy, and a non-stigmatizing attitude in caring for these individuals. Enhancing self-esteem and feelings of self-worth for those coping with a psychiatric illness can be a very fulfilling experience that will only serve to continue to break down the stigma surrounding this group of diseases.


At the conclusion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate how mental health and oral health are closely intertwined and how one can directly impact the other.
  2. Comprehend how medications used to treat various forms of mental illness can interact with other drugs used in dentistry.
  3. Understand how oral health problems can arise for example, as direct manifestations of schizophrenia, eating disorders and bipolar disorder, in addition to being side effects of numerous psychiatric medications.
  4. Understand the disabilities and stigma associated with mental illness as well as enhancing one’s knowledge of the various psychiatric disorders so as to be better prepared to provide dental treatment on a highly individualized basis.


Dr. David B. Clark Bsc., DDS, MSc(Oral Pathology), FAAOP, FRCDC, is the former Clinic Director of Dental Services at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ontario. He is also an Instructor in Dentistry, Department of Oral Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto.

He obtained his DDS at the University of Toronto in 1976 and his MSc. in Oral Pathology (Western University) in 1986. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and Academy of Dentistry International. He received the Award of Distinction from the Academy of Dentistry International in 2015 for his dedication and contributions to the field of Continuing Dental Education. He received the Award of Merit from the Ontario Dental Association in 2016.

His hospital-based practice was devoted to the general dental care of individuals undergoing primary care for various forms of psychiatric illness often co-existing with other medically compromising conditions.

He currently participates in the teaching of the undergraduate dental curriculum relating to the topics of Oral Medicine and Oral Diagnosis at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto. He is also a part-time clinical instructor (Dental Hygiene, Year 2) at Durham College, Oshawa, Ontario and (Denturism Program Year 3) at George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario.