By Alison Bailin Batz
Finding access to acceptable dental care has proven difficult or impossible for many of the 52 million-plus people with disabilities in the United States.
In the greater Airpark area, there is a special group working to program these key services to the community, and support to them is key to assist them in continuing their critical work.
In August, Delta Dental of Arizona, through its foundation, announced a $100,000 grant to support the Pacific Dental Services (PDS) Foundation Dentists for Special Needs, a family-friendly, sensory-integrated nonprofit dental office located on Tatum Boulevard and Bell Road that provides service to the residents of the Scottsdale Airpark and beyond. Through the grant, a two-year investment of $50,000 per year, the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation will support patient care, including financial assistance for those who are uninsured.
The PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs supports patients with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities including autism, Alzheimer’s, dementia, paraplegia, cerebral palsy and many others. The clinic features specially designed wheelchair-accessible, sensory-integrated operatories with televisions on the ceiling, doors for privacy, and a unique operatory with two chairs to provide space for siblings to allow for modeling behavior. The team at Dentists for Special Needs is similarly specialized. The clinic features specially trained clinicians and team members uniquely equipped with behavioral and environmental techniques to ensure a successful visit. Appointments are designed to allow the patient time to get comfortable and acquainted with the team.
“Our sensory room is a patient favorite that offers a calm and relaxing environment with tactile elements as well as unique lighting and sounds. We incorporate similar features throughout the office,” says Kyle Guerin, executive director of the PDS Foundation.
Each operatory has sensory capes on the lights for a calming environment and a TV on the ceiling to provide distraction during treatment.
“The PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs provides the appropriate accommodations for patients with physical disabilities, as well as sensitivity to sensory stimuli like speech, sound and light. David Jourabchi, D.D.S., specializes in treating patients using sensory and behavioral coping strategies, which is a positive step toward ensuring access to dental care for everyone across Arizona,” says Allan Allford, Delta Dental of Arizona president and chief executive officer. “Delta Dental’s mission is to improve lives by promoting optimal oral health, and making investments in organizations like this brings us one step closer to seeing this mission realized.”
The PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs was founded in 2019 by the PDS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on improving overall health by improving oral health. The PDS Foundation has four main programs through which it improves access to oral health care for disadvantaged and underserved communities: special needs dentistry, dental assistant scholarships, international service trips and mobile dental clinics.
“Since opening, the PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs has grown to serve on average 200 patients per month, providing services including routine dental checkups, fillings, silver diamine fluoride, crowns and emergency dental care,” Guerin says. “This grant will ensure that we can continue to offer services to all individuals in a way that is comfortable and safe for them.”
This is one of many investments Delta Dental of Arizona has made to support oral health across Arizona and is in addition to its 2021 Foundation grants, which awarded nearly $775,000 to 30 local organizations to support oral health services and education. In addition, according to the recently released Delta Dental Institute’s 2020 Community Impact Report highlighting the investments the Delta Dental companies and their foundations made in 2020 to advance oral health, respond to COVID-19, and address health inequities and disparities, Delta Dental of Arizona impacted the lives of 346,818 individuals in Arizona by investing $1,787,734 in 54 community impact programs.
For more information about Dentists for Special Needs, or to make a donation, please visit dentistsforspecialneeds.com.