$1 Million Gift to Support Penn Dental Care Center for Persons with Disabilities

Dentistry Today


Penn Dental Medicine has received a $1 million gift from the Colgate-Palmolive Company to help advance patient care through the Penn Dental Medicine Care Center for Persons with Disabilities and the development of the Colgate Innovation Laboratory there. 

Through the laboratory, Colgate experts will work with Penn Dental Medicine faculty, students, and researchers throughout the University of Pennsylvania to assess needs and develop and refine new dental products that facilitate optimal dental care for patients with disabilities.

“This dynamic partnership with Colgate-Palmolive, a global leader in oral care, will help Penn Dental Medicine address the diverse dental needs of patients with a full spectrum of disabilities,” said Penn Dental Medicine dean Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD.

“For some, that may include the creation of entirely new types of personal care products,” Wolff said. “Together, we will work to make the lives of this underserved population easier and healthier. 

A fall 2020 opening is projected for the 3,500-square-foot, 12-chair Penn Dental Medicine’s Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, which will be located at the school’s Schattner Center and is expected to serve approximately 10,000 patients per year. 

Dedicated to providing preventive and interceptive oral healthcare for patients of all ages living with all forms of disability, the facility will be outfitted to serve patients on wheelchairs and on gurneys. There also will be a stimulation room with low lighting and sound baffling to accommodate patients with sensory sensitivities. 

As many as 57 million people in the United States live with acquired and developmental disabilities, Penn Dental says, with many lacking access to properly trained dental professionals, equipment, and products required for successful treatment.

The Care Center for Persons with Disabilities also will provide a comprehensive educational program to train Penn Dental Medicine students in confidently providing safe, effective, and empathetic care to patients.

“A key goal of the Center will also be to educate practicing dentists, hygienists, teachers, nurses, and caregivers on how preventive practices and teamwork can improve the quality of life for both the disabled and their families,” said Wolff. 

“We plan to develop and report on best practices through targeted publications as well as organized dental and research groups nationwide,” Wolff said. 

Penn Dental Medicine also will measure the impact of this type of model on student learning and build data on how a prevention-focused approach can improve the care experience, oral health, and quality of life for patients.

“The creation of the Colgate Innovation Laboratory and innovation team at Penn Dental Medicine marks an unprecedented opportunity to help overcome the disparity in oral healthcare for patients with disabilities by developing innovative, cost-effective products that will improve the quality of their lives,” said Patricia Verduin, chief technology officer at Colgate-Palmolive.

“We look forward to joining forces with our esteemed colleagues at Penn Dental Medicine to aid in the development and implementation of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies to address to oral care needs of people with disabilities in collaboration with their caregivers and healthcare providers, ultimately improving their oral and overall health,” said Maria Ryan, chief dental officer at Colgate-Palmolive.

Related Articles

Clinic Specializes in Dentistry for Patients With Special Needs

Dental Schools to Build Facilities for Patients With Special Needs

NYU Opens Oral Health Center for People With Disabilities