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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Pitt Dental School Names Director of New Special Needs Center

PITTSBURGH, December 13, 2007 Erik Scheifele, D.M.D., has been named director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine s Center for People with Special Needs, which will open in the spring of 2008. Dr. Scheifele is the former director of pediatric dentistry at Temple University's Kornberg School of Dentistry, as well as a former assistant professor at Pitts dental school.

Patients with special needs have a difficult time finding dental providers who are willing to treat them, noted Dr. Scheifele. In some instances, the clinician may not feel comfortable or properly trained to treat patients with special needs. The new center will allow us to provide comprehensive, quality dental care to these patients while training future and established clinicians in special-care dentistry. This will help to improve access to care for these patients.

For more than 40 years, the School of Dental Medicine has served as a unique provider of, and educator in, special-needs dentistry. The Center for People with Special Needs will substantially increase the capacity for treatment of this largely underserved population. The center will provide vital educational opportunities for residents, as well as predoctoral and dental hygiene students, while improving the oral health of patients who are faced with many challenges. It will offer diagnostic services, routine prevention and restorative dentistry for those who are physically limited by birth defects, injury or disease, as well as intellectual disabilities, neurological and behavioral disorders and developmental disabilities.

The School of Dental Medicine traditionally has been committed to providing dental services to persons with disabilities, said Dennis Ranalli, D.D.S., M.D.S., senior associate dean and professor of pediatric dental medicine at the school. In an effort to meet the expanding unmet dental needs of this underserved segment of our society, we have established goals to expand our clinical facility and to enhance existing educational and service commitments to train our students and practicing professionals in best practices for the dental care of people with special health care needs. Our goal is to expand the pool of trained dental providers and to expand the availability of special-needs dental care, both at the School of Dental Medicine and within the practice community, as well.

The School of Dental Medicine has been an integral part of the University of Pittsburgh's growth for nearly a century. Established in 1896 as an independent institution named the Pittsburgh Dental College, the school was incorporated into the university in 1905. Like the five other Schools of the Health Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine is affiliated with the internationally renowned academic medical center, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which provides the regions largest network of tertiary, specialty and community hospitals. Collectively, these facilities provide one of the nations most complete health centers for teaching, patient care and research in the health sciences. For additional information about the School of Dental Medicine, visit .


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