The University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry recently opened the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Pediatric Dentistry Outpatient Care Center (ILCHF PD-OCC). The new center plans to serve 1,000 children annually from ages 3 to 17 years who need oral health care under general anesthesia.
The project was initiated 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.”
The center includes four procedure rooms for oral surgery procedures and two general anesthesia suites for pediatric dental care. The center’s inter-professional teams consist of pediatric and oral surgery dental faculty and residents, anesthesiologists, a social worker, auxiliary staff and a nurse, among others. The outpatient care center is shared with the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and represents a collaboration to support the communities seeking complex oral health care at UIC.
The ILCHF PD-OCC 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 UI Hospital main operating room.
Dental caries, or tooth decay, is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases and may have long-lasting effects, including cardiac and mental health issues in adulthood. Dental decay that causes pain and facial swelling affects the child’s daily life — many cannot chew properly, sleep or pay attention at school. It also can affect their self-esteem and cause financial problems for the family, with parents having to take time off from work to care for a child in pain and/or paying for dental expenses out of pocket. 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 17 years of age every 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 health care and look forward to being able to care for even more pediatric patients and their families,” explained Da Fonseca.
The new 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, Healthy Communities Foundation, Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation, the Bisco Charitable Foundation, UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children, and a funding partner wishing to remain anonymous.
“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 for the College of Dentistry.
A dedication and formal opening for the ILCHF PD-OCC is planned for spring 2021.