The School of Dental Medicine has a long history in special needs dentistry and ranks among pioneers in the education of this specialized field with the first independent Department of Anesthesiology in U.S. dental schools and a clinic for children with disabilities established in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry.  

Such distinctions have charted the course for a newly dedicated Center for Patients with Special Needs. After over 40 years of service as a regional provider to patients with disabilities, the new center offers increased educational opportunities and treatment for this underserved population.

The Center for Patients with Special Needs centralizes the treatment of patients who were previously treated throughout clinics in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, the Advanced Education in General Dentistry, and the Dental Hygiene Program.

While the Center for Patients with Special Needs is the most recent center to be established at the School of Dental Medicine, it has been an effort in the making since 2001. As established by Dean Thomas W. Braun, special needs dentistry has emerged as a chief priority of the School of Dental Medicine. This effort is aimed at expanding the pool of trained dental providers as well as making special needs dental care more widely available.

Many individuals and organizations have contributed to the growth and support of the Center for Patients with Special Needs. A University capital allocation was provided for the renovation of the new space on the third floor of Salk Hall. Among the contributors are Achieva, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, The Edith Trees Charitable Trust, FISA Foundation, The Herbert G. Feldman Charitable Foundation, Highmark Foundation, The International College of Dentists, Islam Grotto, Massey Charitable Trust, Special Olympics Special Smiles, Women’s Auxiliary to the Odontological Society of Western Pennsylvania, and individual donors.

The establishment of this center heralds a new era in dental education and treatment of patients with special needs.