UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry to open special-care clinic after receiving federal grant

A visit to the dentist can bring anxiety, but it can be even more stressful for families who care for adults or children with special needs.

Shreya Prasanna said her family doctor refused to see her child.

“My daughter has some medical comorbidities, which require her to be treated in a specialty clinic,” said Prasanna.

She had to see several separate dental offices until she found UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.

Soon the specialty care her child is getting will be expanded even further thanks to a $2 million federal grant to support a large special-care clinic.

Dr. Peter Loomer, dean of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, said families with medical complexities need special attention.

Staff at UT Health SA School of Dentistry’s special-care clinic will be trained to care for those with cerebral palsy, autism, or other physical disabilities that might impact their access to dental care.

“It’s an area that requires additional training. So every dentist can do this, every hygienist, they just need a little bit of extra training on management of a more complex medical or physical challenge that a patient may have,” Loomer said.

The clinic is expected to open in early 2024. It will be a unique school in the south Texas region.

“I think our biggest challenge is just getting the right workforce. We’re going to have to hire some specialists who are going to be training our learners,” he said.

The Phil and Karen Hunke Special Care Clinic will be named after Dr. Hunke, a retired pediatric dentist, who provided the seed money for the clinic.

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