ATSU’s Center for Advanced Oral Health will be first nonprofit community dental clinic in Arizona with dedicated anesthesia suites (via @dentistryIQ)

20 Apr


ATSU’s suites provide anesthesia, a vital necessity for older patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of medically complex conditions

This summer, A.T. Still University’s Center for Advanced Oral Health, one of four teaching clinics operated by the university’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, will become the first nonprofit community dental clinic in Arizona with permanent anesthesia suites. The creation and outfitting of the suites, which is being funded by a $160,000 grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, will increase the clinic’s capacity to serve older patients for whom anesthesia is essential (such as those with Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia, and other medically complex conditions).

The $160,000 grant will fund the conversion of two dental operating rooms into dental anesthesia suites; the creation of both a waiting area and a recovery room, designed to be soothing, quiet spaces where older adults will feel comfortable and relaxed as they wait for or recover from treatment; and the purchase of anesthesia machines, monitors, an emergency crash cart with a defibrillator, and other equipment needed to administer anesthesia.

The expansion of The Center’s anesthesia services (until now available to a limited number of patients at a time via a mobile anesthesia cart) reflects the mission of the 11,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, the first of its kind in Arizona. That mission is to care for individuals whose complicated oral health needs or medically complex conditions like cancer; cardiac disease; renal disease; bleeding disorders; and physical, developmental, and cognitive disabilities, make it challenging for them to receive dental treatment without sedation.

The new suites will benefit The Center’s many patients on a fixed income, who would otherwise be unable to afford dental anesthesia for procedures like fillings, root canals, crowns, cleaning, extractions, and implants.

Center for Advanced Oral HealthMaureen Perry, DDS, MPA, director of The Center and Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education at ATSU’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, said “We are immensely grateful to Piper Trust for this grant and the vote of confidence it represents. Creating permanent anesthesia suites will ensure that older Arizonans and others with cognitive or other challenges receive the high-quality yet affordable dental care they deserve, in a timely manner, thereby preventing the development of related health problems.”

“The anesthesia suites at A.T. Still University’s Center for Advanced Oral Health will provide older adults with a critical service that has the potential to improve their quality of life and overall health,” said Susan M. Pepin, MD, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

As the U.S. population ages, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia – the vast majority of them older adults – grows, leaving the healthcare system to scramble to catch up. According to the National Institute on Aging, as many as 5 million Americans 65 and older may have Alzheimer’s disease, with the number doubling for every five-year interval after age 65.

Currently, for every ATSU’s Center for Advanced Oral Health patient who receives dental anesthesia, three remain on the waiting list. The waiting period is three months long, a delay with potentially devastating effects on patients’ overall health and a commensurate impact on Arizona’s healthcare costs.

ATSU’s Center for Advanced Oral Health is one of four teaching clinics operated by the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health, serving as both treatment centers for Arizona residents and training facilities for ATSU’s post-doctoral dental residents and dental and medical students.



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