Serving Persons with Disabilities

People can be born with disabilities. Others acquire them through disease, trauma, or with age. Often, people with cognitive, developmental, or physical disabilities have trouble finding a dental team willing and able to meet their needs. At Penn Dental Medicine, we believe the solution is building confidence and competence in managing the needs of individuals with disabilities from the very beginning of dental training.

Our Personalized Care Suite is the clinical care portion of our  Care Center for Persons with Disabilities. Along with providing outstanding dental care, it will be a place where helpful new products will be developed, where preventive techniques will be refined, and where resources can be developed for patients, their caregivers, and even our fellow health providers.

Every Penn Dental Medicine student rotates through this Center, learning from interdisciplinary faculty serving patients with conditions that range from autism, Alzheimer’s, and paralysis to movement disorders, complex medical conditions, and much more.

Features of the space include:

  • A “quiet room” for patients sensitive to light and sound — This room is designed to help calm patients who might be easily agitated. The lighting is low and the floor carpeted so provider and patient can get acquainted on the floor if necessary. This room can even be accessed from the hallway to avoid any anxiety trigger that might arise from passing through our main reception area.
  • A six-chair open bay – Each chair in the open bay will have the capacity to supply nitrous oxide. Our care team will include dental students, hygienists, and dental faculty members skilled at delivering care to patients with all types of needs. Trained navigators will facilitate appointments and follow-up with patients.
  • Six closed operatories – Featuring sliding doors for easy navigation, adjustable lighting, and black-out shades, these rooms are all equipped to deliver nitrous oxide as needed.
  • Wheelchair lift room – Allowing patients to remain in their own wheelchair, the lift can tilt an occupant back to where the dentist can provide a safer, more comfortable, and less stressful procedure while the patient is seated in his or her wheelchair.
  • Hover chair rooms – Many of our patients will not be ambulatory. Special hover chairs can glide across the floor with a simple push when a patient in a stretcher needs to be accommodated.
  • Radiology room – Dentists know that you can’t treat what you can’t see. The suite has its own CBCT machine – which stands for cone-beam computed tomography – it will provide caregivers with the precision they need to see more of a patient’s anatomy to better diagnose and treatment plan.
  • Colgate-Palmolive Innovation Laboratory — Embedded within the facility, Colgate experts will work side by side with Penn Dental Medicine faculty and students to assess needs and develop and refine new products that facilitate optimal dental care for patients with disabilities.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment call: 215-898-8180.


The Care Center for Persons with Disabilities is also a site for clinical research. Embedded within the space is the Colgate Innovation Laboratory, designed to collaborate with Colgate scientists on the design and implementation of products to enhance oral care in people with disabilities. The Innovation Laboratory allows researchers to interact with patients. With patient and caregiver consent, scientists have the opportunity to observe how their products are used and receive feedback that can inform design tweaks or new inventions.

In addition, faculty and students in the Care Center also engage in other relevant clinical research projects in coordination with the School’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research.


An educational model for special patient care in dentistry »

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