Philadelphia – A major gift from a Penn Dental Medicine alumnus is helping to advance pediatric dentistry education and patient care. With this contribution from Dr. Tony Saito, a 1995 DMD graduate, the School will name its pediatric clinic the Saito Pediatric Care Center.
“Dr. Saito’s commitment to our School, our students, and the patients we serve is tremendous,” says Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark Wolff. “His support and engagement are invaluable.”
A pediatric dentist, Dr. Saito owns a private practice based in West Boylston, Mass., which he opened in 2001. After earning his DMD from Penn Dental Medicine in 1995, Dr. Saito completed a general practice residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center and went on to a pediatric residency at Columbia University Medical Center.
“I chose to make this gift to support the future of our rapidly evolving profession. Our students under the guidance of our outstanding Penn faculty need the most advanced technology in order to provide the best care for the children in the Philadelphia community,” says Dr. Saito. “It is my hope to have the students that I have mentored, return to Penn Dental and give back their time and energy as I have given to them.”
Since 2017, Dr. Saito has been an active member of the Dean’s Council at Penn Dental Medicine, an external advisory group to the Dean. In addition, he lectures annually to both the DMD students and the postdoctoral students in the pediatric program at Penn Dental Medicine.
“Our students benefit greatly from the Dr. Saito’s perspective as a practicing pediatric dentist,” notes Dr. Betty Hajishengallis, Chief of Penn Dental Medicine’s Division of Pediatric Dentistry and Director of the postdoctoral pediatric program. “His willingness to come back to the School on a regular basis to share his experiences and serve as a mentor can have a great impact as students look to enter the specialty.”
The space to be named the Saito Pediatric Care Center is the 16-chair teaching clinic for the School’s pediatric program, where postdoctoral students as well as DMD students provide care to children of all ages. The care center includes 10 private operatories and an open bay area with six treatment areas.
The section with the private operatories and the waiting area underwent a renovation in early 2019 to enhance the clinical care and patient experience. All 10 operatories have been outfitted with new equipment, including new dental chairs with rear-delivery instruments, new radiology units, and new cabinetry. One of the most significant changes was the creation of an operatory designed to accommodate patients who use a wheelchair — now outfitted with a lift, patients can be easily treated without having to leave their wheelchairs.
“This generous support from Dr. Saito will allow us to continue to strengthen our clinical care resources, and in turn, our service to the community,” adds Dean Wolff. “We couldn’t be more appreciative of his shared commitment to our mission.”