NSU gets $3.4M to improve dental care for autism patients

The Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Dental Medicine has received a $3.4 million grant to enhance dental care and access for people with autism.

The five-year grant, from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will provide training for pediatric dentistry and advanced education for general dentistry residents, according to NSU.

The program will include developing a curriculum to address the transition of children and adolescents with autism spectral disorder (ASD) to adult dental care and also increase access to dental care for those with special health care needs.

"Nova Southeastern University is committed to researching and implementing new techniques to help patients with special needs," stated Romer Ocanto, DDS, chair of the department of pediatric dentistry, in a press release. "We are excited about this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people. This funding will allow us to partner with community organizations and general dentists in Florida and throughout the Southeastern U.S. to enhance dental services available to patients with autism."

About 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with ASD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average medical expenses for children and adolescents with ASD are $4,100 to $6,200 higher per year, according to NSU.

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