UWI offers free dental for children with special needs

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CHILDREN with special needs can free treatment at The University of the West Indies Special Needs Dental Clinic. The treatment centre is based at the School of Dentistry in the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the university’s St Augustine campus.

The centre recently received a $90,000 donation from Community Chest Ltd (CCL), a non-governmental organisation.

A UWI press release said the board of CCL recognised an unmet need for dental care for children with special needs. When they discovered there was an existing specialised dental clinic able to provide treatment, the decision was made to assist with the donation.

The CCL said this service is important since poor oral health is linked to other general health issues and people with special needs often have both oral and systemic diseases.

Dental treatment is associated with high costs and although The UWI Dental School offers highly subsidised fees, this service may still not be affordable to those who access government grants.

Dr Ramaa Balkaran, lecturer in special needs dentistry at the faculty expressed enthusiasm about this initiative from the CCL which enables children with special needs to access specialised dental care.

“This purposeful collaboration,” she said, “would improve the quality of life of this population through dental care.”

Special needs dentistry modifies treatment by promoting preventative dentistry and changes in routine dental care adapted to the specific, patient’s needs.

Balkaran said she wished the partnership would be sustainable and can also be extended to the adult population through future partnerships with the CCL and other NGOs.

Director of the School of Dentistry Dr William Smith said he hopes the Special Needs Dental Clinic can create additional partnerships with various NGOs to promote oral health in the special needs population, providing treatment through private/public UWI partnership.

“Such collaborative initiatives would increase access to a conscious sedation service at UWI/NCRHA clinic, provide general anaesthesia in a timely manner, and have restorative and urgent treatment completed at no, or reduced, costs through private/corporate UWI partnership.

“Another goal is the provision of a dental mobile unit accessible to patients with special needs that have mobility issues or who live in rural communities,” Smith said.

Parents of children with special needs, can book an appointment at the dental clinic.

Clinical days are Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as all day on Friday.

For further information call 645-3232 ext. 4038 or 645-7816 and 645-4352.

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