Warm orange and green walls form the framework of the School of Dentistry’s new fourth-floor pediatric dental clinic, where residents will soon welcome patients from birth to 19 years of age.
The University of Minnesota’s dentistry school will open the University of Minnesota Pediatric Dental Clinic, made possible by Delta Dental of Minnesota, on April 3.
Talks of the new clinic began 3 1/2 years ago, but construction crews didn’t start transforming the old Fairview Women’s Clinic into a children’s dental clinic until October, project manager Joe Menth said.
The clinic is home to the University’s advanced education program in pediatric dentistry, where already-licensed dentists will train to become pediatric dentists. Residents usually take an additional two years of education to specialize in the field.
Before the move across the river, children were treated in Moos Tower.
In addition to its location across the street from Amplatz Children’s Hospital, the clinic is in the same building as many other pediatric medical clinics which might encourage more inter-professional work, said Dan Shaw, a pediatric dentist and interim clinic director.
“It will make collaboration with that medical institution very easy, and I am looking forward to treating patients in tandem with Amplatz,” first-year pediatric dental resident Dan Fallon said.
It is important to have interprofessional care in the dental field because factors that affect the mouth can affect other parts of the body, Shaw said.
“If a child is receiving chemo, it is important that he or she has a healthy mouth because it can affect their immune system,” he said.
Shaw said inter-professional work will teach the residents more about other medical fields.
“The residents should have a lot more exposure to medical things that might influence child dental care,” he said.
The floor contains 14 rooms for performing cleanings, fillings and other basic procedures on the kids. Six rooms are designed specifically for kids that require special accommodations.
These rooms have doors 36 inches wide instead of the standard 32 inches to accommodate patients in wheelchairs. The room contains equipment for children who have to be sedated — most are kids who are overly anxious or are too young to receive certain simple procedures.
“We don’t do it a lot,” Shaw said. “The number one thing is how much treatment the patient needs.”
The remaining eight open bay stations are designed to meet the specific needs of children and their parents. The open rooms allow parents with two or more kids visiting the clinic to bounce back and forth between the rooms. Televisions hang from the walls so the children can watch a movie while the resident performs the procedures.
Fallon said he chose to be a pediatric dentist because it can be challenging but also a lot of fun.
“Kids often have such a unique perspective on the world that it never gets routine,” he said.
The Delta Dental Foundation of Minnesota donated the $3.5 million it took to remodel the floor and purchase the up-to-date technology including digital X-rays, a consulting room with a microphone and projection screen and cameras so the residents can watch and review their own and each other’s work.
“The goal for the company was to assess the critical needs in the state and work with partners to find solutions,” said Ann Johnson, executive director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Trust and director of community affairs for the company.
The School of Dentistry provides both the faculty and the residents for the clinic, Menth said.
Fallon said he thinks the updated technology and new location will be beneficial for the patients.
“Right now, it’s rather difficult to get to Moos Tower,” he said. “All of the equipment will be new and state-of-the-art, which will allow us to provide excellent care in a very streamlined way.”