Loma Linda University School of Dentistry has been awarded a $1.35M grant from the Riverside County Children & Families Commission, also known as First 5 Riverside, for a pilot program named "Early Childhood Special Care Dental Program" to promote oral health care services for children with special health care needs ages 0-5 throughout Riverside County.
"This new grant funding will be profoundly helpful to these families and we certainly are looking forward to letting these families know about this wonderful opportunity that First 5 Riverside is making possible for them," says Carla Lidner Baum, SD’90, program director for the new early childhood special care dental program.
Dr. Lidner Baum and the program dentist, Jane Ellis, SD’83, both have already been directly involved in other First 5 dental programs in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Lessons learned from these previous (and concurrent) grants will inform this new opportunity to fund solutions for children with special health care needs in Riverside County.
According to Dr. Lidner Baum, many children that are in the 0-5 year age range face challenges in accessing dental treatment.
"These children are young, afraid, have very tiny mouths and often present with extensive dental decay. When young children have additional special health care needs, the challenges in accessing dental treatment are predictably even greater. The associated costs for anesthesia and special medical attention become prohibitive for the families of children with special health care needs."
This new funding from First 5 Riverside will help to reduce barriers to oral health care services for children with special health care needs by assisting with their medical, financial, cultural, and transportation barriers/issues. Common barriers to accessing health care services include lack of understanding on the importance of good oral health and preventative measures, insurance hurdles and inadequate funding.
The new county wide oral health care delivery system will be designed and implemented to significantly increase access to oral health care services for children with special health care needs. A wide array of services will be provided, including: overall caries-risk assessments, comprehensive (direct) dental exams, specialized dental treatment options (including the use of general anesthesia), follow-up care/maintenance, parent/caregiver education, and oral hygiene instruction specific to the child’s physical, emotional, developmental, and behavioral constraints.
Since 1976, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry has been providing dental treatment under general anesthesia to special needs patients. Initially, a “hospital dentistry department” was housed within Loma Linda University Medical Center. In the year 2000, that department moved to its current location within the School of Dentistry and is now known as Special Care Dentistry. Under the direction of John Leyman, DDS, chair, the Department of Anesthesiology and Special Care Dentistry, has provided general anesthesia to more than 45,000 patients within the past ten years at its present location.
The clinical staff consists of a physician, dentists, dentist anesthesiologists, registered nurses, anesthesiology residents, and dental assistants. Special Care Dentistry has come to symbolize the highest standard of care for the oral health needs of very young children, high-risk children, and special needs adolescents and adults.