Special patient care (Hospital dentistry)

  • 57 million people are disabled in U.S., 10% of them are severe.

  • These disabilities usually begin at birth, thus a large number of severely disabled are children.

  • Autism: About 1.5% of children in the United States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) as of 2016.

  • Down syndrome: It is one of the most common chromosome abnormalities in humans. It occurs in about one per 1000 babies born each year.

Since our founding in 1976, UCLA Special Patient Care (formerly Hospital Dentistry) has been dedicated to our mission of meeting the dental health care needs of patients with the most severe developmental disabilities and medically compromised diagnosis. Our patients include those with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism and dementia. Medically compromised patients include those with serious medical disorders or procedures such as those with open heart surgery, organ transplant, leukemia, various cancers as well as patients with complex oral disorders.


Post-Graduate Education

In addition to providing highly specialized special patient care, our department serves an essential role in educating dentists in our post-graduate residency. Our one-year program prepares dentists to care for and treat this highly underserved and complex population.


Our Challenges

Most of us have experienced the unbearable pain of a throbbing toothache. Imagine having that pain with no way to communicate your suffering  or  ask for help. Now imagine waiting a year to be seen by a doctor qualified to handle your condition. This is the reality for literally thousands of severely developmentally disabled Southern Californians. Due to closures at Loma Linda and USC, UCLA Special Patient Care is the only higher learning facility in Southern California providing IV sedation services to special needs patients. While there are several reasons for this crisis, reimbursement and lack of qualified providers are key contributors. Although the state of California provides dental care to this population via Denti-Cal, reimbursement is currently pennies on the dollar. Furthermore, there is a lack of qualified providers trained to handle the unique challenges of special needs patients.


Why Your Support Matters

UCLA Special Patient Care is leading the way the world treats and cares for the dental health of special patient populations. Currently, our community’s need far exceeds our capacity. Our goal is to increase our capacity to treat this underserved population through research, education and expansion. With your help we can achieve our goals by advocating for our special needs patients at the legislative level, continuing our research and expanding our capacity to treat patients in our clinic and in the operating room.

How much will your donation help our special needs patients here and around the world?

Every dollar goes directly towards helping us fight to achieve our goal of providing expert, compassionate and timely care for all special needs patients.