The Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Pediatric Dentistry Outpatient Care Center (ILCHF PD-OCC) will serve a thousand children between the ages of 3 and 17 who need oral healthcare under general anesthesia each year.
The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry launched the facility in response to an increase in children in need of dental procedures requiring general anesthesia.
“The center will greatly improve our ability to serve the children in need of dental care under general anesthesia within an acceptable timeframe,” said Dr. Marcio da Fonseca, Chicago Dental Society Foundation Professor and head of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry.
“Because of our large volume of patients, many had to wait many months to get an appointment. Once the center is fully operational, we hope that the wait time will be only a few weeks after the child’s initial appointment. That is crucial to improve the quality of life of the child and the family,” said da Fonseca.
The center includes four procedure rooms for oral surgery and two general anesthesia suites for pediatric dental care. Its interprofessional teams will include pediatric and oral surgery dental faculty and residents, anesthesiologists, a social worker, auxiliary staff, and a nurse, among other personnel.
The ILCHF PD-OCC will be shared by the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. It represents a collaboration that will support the communities seeking complex oral healthcare at UIC, the school said.
The center will serve healthy children at low risk of complications. Patients with complex medical issues needing advanced medical support for their dental treatment under general anesthesia will continue to be treated in the University of Illinois Hospital main operating room.
Dental caries is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and may have long-lasting effects, including cardiac and mental health issues in adulthood, UIC said. Dental decay that causes pain and facial affects the child’s daily life, as many children with decay can’t chew properly, sleep, or pay attention at school.
Also, dental caries can affect children’s self-esteem and cause financial problems for the family, as parents have to take time off from work to care for children in pain and pay for dental care out of pocket, UIC continued. When a community lacks dental providers, caregivers seek treatment at hospital emergency rooms, where care is costly and may not solve the problem.
The Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the UIC College of Dentistry is the largest provider of pediatric dental care in Illinois, serving almost 10,000 patients from birth to the age of 17 each year statewide in 30,000 scheduled visits.
“Most of our patients are from low-income minority families who are disproportionately affected by dental disease and have public aid dental insurance. We are proud of our prominent role in the community’s oral healthcare and look forward to being able to care for even more pediatric patients and their families,” said da Fonseca.
The center was funded by an Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation primary grant. Other supporters include the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Wisdom Tooth Award, the Coleman Foundation, the Healthy Communities Foundation, the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation, the Bisco Charitable Foundation, the UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children, and an anonymous funding partner.
“We are very grateful for their support, which totaled $3.3 million for the infrastructure to create the center as well as private philanthropy to create a safe space for pediatric dental care under general anesthesia,” said Dr. Clark M. Stanford, dean of the College of Dentistry.
A dedication and formal opening is planned for spring 2021.