Grant to Support Dental Anesthesiology for Children With Special Needs

Dentistry Today


The ADA Foundation will award a three-year, $375,000 grant to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to support a new program designed to improve access to oral healthcare for children with special needs. 

The funding will support the center’s dental anesthesiology residency program, which will operate in conjunction with the general practice residency and special needs dentistry programs to deliver oral care to patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The new program will be a model for the advanced training of dental anesthesiologists, who often have to provide deep sedation or general anesthesia for children with developmental or physical disabilities. These children’s access to such care often is limited by the availability of hospital operating room time. 

“The special needs program at Advocate Illinois Masonic is truly impressive. Children with all types of disabilities, both developmental and physical, are provided with access to excellent treatment,” said William R. Calnon, DDS, ADA Foundation president.

“The dental anesthesia residency is a very innovative addition to an already superb program and will allow more kids to avoid hospital waiting rooms,” Calnon said.

Program goals include expanding the medical center’s special needs dentistry program to serve more children at an earlier age through referral relationships that link children with special needs to a dental home at the dental center.

The program also aims to improve care for children with special needs through increased capacity to manage cases in an outpatient setting. And, it aims to provide a model program for improving the oral health status of children with special needs.

“This generous grant will enable us to enhance our special needs dentistry program by further expanding access to oral care for this very vulnerable patient population,” said James Benz, DDS, chair of dentistry at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Advocate Illinois Masonic’s dental anesthesia residents will work alongside general practice residents to treat patients with special needs in the operating room and in the newly built anesthesia suite in the department of dentistry.

The program also includes a mobile dental van. Residents rotate weekly with staff in the van to offer oral care to special needs patients who otherwise would not be able to access this type of care.

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