WORCESTER, MASS. (April 30, 2014) — Tufts University School of Dental Medicine announced today the opening of its new clinic in Worcester serving people with developmental and acquired disabilities. The state-of-the-art Tufts Dental Facility at Worcester is one of eight Tufts University dental clinics in Massachusetts providing comprehensive oral health care for people with special needs. The new Worcester clinic is located at 150 Goddard Memorial Drive in the Seven Hills Foundation’s ASPiRE! center, which provides workforce readiness, employment, and day habilitation services for people with disabilities.
The Tufts Dental Facilities for individuals with special needs is a network of clinics across Massachusetts, seven of which are made possible through a contractual partnership with the Commonwealth’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and Department of Public Health (DPH). More than 7,000 patients with disabilities receive treatment at the clinics each year. The Tufts program is recognized by the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors as a national model and is the largest of its kind in the country.
“The important work of the Tufts Dental Facilities reflects the School of Dental Medicine’s commitment to ensuring that diverse communities have access to excellent oral health care,” said Huw F. Thomas, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., dean of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and professor of pediatric dentistry. “The new clinic in Worcester will provide vital services for people with disabilities in Central Massachusetts and offer our faculty, staff, and students opportunities to promote and protect the oral health of vulnerable populations.”
“Thanks to the collaboration between DDS, DPH, Seven Hills Foundation, and Tufts, a new dental clinic specially designed to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities in Central Massachusetts has become a reality,” said Elin Howe, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. “The clinic continues the long successful partnership between the Patrick Administration and Tufts Dental School to provide quality dental services to individuals with developmental disabilities, as well as people with acquired disabilities.”
The opening of the new clinic in Worcester will help address a significant community need. In 2012, Tufts University researchers published a study in The Journal of the American Dental Association finding that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are more likely to have poor oral health – including gum disease, untreated tooth decay, and missing teeth – than the general population. The study also found that providing dental care for this population presents unique challenges, with a significant proportion requiring specialized resources, such as general anesthesia or behavioral assistance in order to undergo treatment. The Tufts clinics support patients who require more advanced behavioral or anxiety reduction techniques that are not available in many dental offices.
In addition to providing specialized care to people with disabilities, the Tufts clinics provide training in and increase awareness of the oral health needs of people with disabilities. All fourth-year dental students at Tufts participate in a one-week rotation through one of the clinics serving people with special needs. The School’s General Practice Residency Program includes training in the oral health care of special needs patients and provides post-graduate students with clinical experience treating people with disabilities both in the clinics and in an operating room setting under the guidance and supervision of experienced faculty members trained in special care dentistry.
The new Tufts Dental Facility at Worcester is housed in a newly renovated building owned and operated by the Seven Hills Foundation, which provides a range of supports for adults and children with disabilities. Two dentists, three dental hygienists, and one dental assistant – all with specialized training in caring for people with special needs – are on staff at the new clinic, as well as two front desk personnel. The new clinic has four treatment chairs, and patients will be eligible for comprehensive oral health care, including examinations, preventive and restorative dentistry, periodontal care, endodontics, prosthetic dentistry, and tooth extraction.
Through its partnership with the state, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine also provides oral health services for people with disabilities in Baldwinville, Canton, Hathorne, Taunton, West Springfield, and Wrentham. An eighth clinic, located at the Seven Hills Pediatric Center in Groton, is a collaboration between Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, the Seven Hills Foundation, and the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.
Patients and caregivers interested in learning more about the TDF clinics, including the new site in Worcester, and the services available are encouraged to call (781) 562-0631 or visit dental.tufts.edu/tdf.
About Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Founded in 1868, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM) is committed to leadership in education, patient care, research, and community service. Students obtain an interdisciplinary education, integrated with medicine, with access to training in dental specialties. Clinics managed at TUSDM provide quality comprehensive care to more than 18,000 diverse individuals annually, including those with special needs. Nationally and internationally, the School promotes health and educational programs and researches new procedures, materials and technologies to improve oral health.