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Penn Dental Medicine Receives $1M Gift to Support Penn Dental Medicine Care Center for Persons With Disabilities, Establish Innovation Laboratory

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Penn Dental MedicineThe University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (Penn Dental Medicine) has received a $1 million gift from the Colgate-Palmolive Company to help advance patient care through the new Penn Dental Medicine Care Center for Persons with Disabilities and develop a Colgate Innovation Laboratory. Through the Innovation Laboratory, to be embedded within the center, Colgate experts will work side by side with Penn Dental Medicine faculty, students and researchers throughout the University of Pennsylvania to assess needs and develop and refine new dental products that facilitate optimal dental care for patients with disabilities. 

“This dynamic partnership with Colgate-Palmolive, a global leader in oral care, will help Penn Dental Medicine address the diverse dental needs of patients with a full spectrum of disabilities. For some, that may include the creation of entirely new types of personal care products,” says Mark Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D., Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “Together, we will work to make the lives of this underserved population easier and healthier.” 

The new Penn Dental Medicine Care Center for Persons with Disabilities is projected to open fall 2020 and will be located within the school’s Robert Schattner Center. The 3,500-square-foot center will provide preventive and interceptive oral health care to patients of all ages with all types of disabilities. The 12-chair facility will serve about 10,000 patients per year and will be outfitted to accommodate patients in wheelchairs and on gurneys. In addition, the center will provide a stimulation room with low lighting and sound baffling to accommodate patients with sensory sensitivities.

Worldwide, millions of people—as many as 57 million in the United States alone—live with acquired and developmental disabilities. Many lack access to properly trained dentists and dental specialists, and to the equipment and products required for successful treatment. In addition to providing the highest quality patient care and support, the center’s comprehensive educational program will train Penn Dental Medicine students to confidently provide safe, effective and empathetic care to patients with disabilities.

“A key goal of the center will also be to educate practicing dentists, hygienists, teachers, nurses and caregivers on how preventive practices and teamwork can improve the quality of life for both the disabled and their families,” adds Dr. Wolff. “We plan to develop and report on best practices through targeted publications as well as organized dental and research groups nationwide.” Penn Dental Medicine will also measure the impact of this type of innovation model on student learning and build data on how a prevention-focused approach can improve the care experience, oral health and quality of life for patients. 

“The creation of the Colgate Innovation Laboratory and innovation team at Penn Dental Medicine marks an unprecedented opportunity to help overcome the disparity in oral health care for patients with disabilities by developing innovative, cost-effective products that will improve the quality of their lives,” says Patricia Verduin, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer at Colgate-Palmolive.

“We look forward to joining forces with our esteemed colleagues at Penn Dental Medicine to aid in the development and implementation of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the oral care needs of people with disabilities in collaboration with their caregivers and health care providers, ultimately improving their oral and overall health,” adds Maria Ryan, D.D.S., Ph.D., Chief Dental Officer at Colgate-Palmolive.

Courtesy of Beth Adams, Office of Communications, Penn Dental Medicine

Published on April 8, 2020

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