Center for Patients with Special Needs

For more than a half century, the School of Dental Medicine has been a regional provider of dental care for patients with special needs.

In the autumn of 2008, after more than 50 years providing multidisciplinary care for patients with disabilities, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine formally dedicated the Center for Patients with Special Needs. In 2014 we celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Center and the opening of a new pediatric facility in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. This illustrates once more why this school is one of the nation’s leading dental schools. Pitt Dental Medicine has been at the forefront of providing care to patients with special needs as we educate students, residents, faculty, staff and clinicians within the community about the sensitivites of caring for thos with special needs.

Led by Dean Bernard J. Costello and supported by services provided by Pitt Dental Medicine’s Department of Dental Anesthesiology, the Center for Patients with Special Needs applies a multidisciplinary approach for both adult and pediatric patients. Our primary focus is to enable centralization of care and increase treatment capacity for patients with physical, developmental, neurological and behavioral disabilities.



The goals of the Center for Patients with Special Needs are to:

  • provide care for patients with special dental and health care needs;
  • give patients with disabilities a home for continuing dental care; and
  • train dental residents, pre-doctoral dental students and dental hygiene students in the care of special needs patients, thus increasing the number of special care dental providers in the general community.

The focus at the School of Dental Medicine is to provide students with experience and skills in the application of modifications that enable safe, efficient and effective dental treatment of special needs patients. Students complete classroom training related to the care and understanding of special needs individuals. In addition, pre-doctoral dental students, dental hygiene students, and dental residents rotate through the Center, providing them with hands-on, supervised treatment. These hands-on clinical experiences are the core of the training program in the Center for Patients with Special Needs.

A multidisciplinary faculty representing various departments at the School of Dental Medicine oversees all student clinical efforts.

Become a Patient at the Center for Patients with Special Needs

The Center for Patients with Special Needs provides a full range of services, including cleanings and X-rays, restorative dentistry, endodontics (root canals) and oral surgery.

Oral health care is provided by pre-doctoral dental students, dental hygiene students and postgraduate residents from various disciplines. The parameters of care for special needs dentistry encompass all disciplines of dental care in conjunction with such departments as Pediatric Dentistry, Anesthesiology and other specialties. Patient management techniques offered will include, but are not limited to, behavior guidance and pharmacological management modalities such as nitrous oxide sedation, IV sedation and general anesthesia.

Patients who do not require specialized care will be referred to other appropriate School of Dental Medicine clinics. Those who do not fit the out-patient or treatment criteria for the Center, or those who are non-compliant with University policies and procedures, may not receive care.

Please bring with you the name(s) and dosage(s) of any medications currently being taken. Photo identification and all insurance information must also be brought with you. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to allow for registration.

For more information about becoming a patient in the Center for Patients with Special Needs, please call 412-648-3039 (for patients 16 years old and over) or 412-648-8930 (for patients under the age of 16).