NJ bill will give $250K to special needs dental clinic

2019 07 10 20 22 0219 New Jersey Sign 400

If signed into law in New Jersey, a new bill will provide $250,000 in funding to the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, which offers a dental clinic that provides care to special needs patients in the region.

Bill A5751 easily passed the New Jersey General Assembly and New Jersey Senate with bipartisan support on December 16. It now awaits final approval from Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor, who has 45 days to give it final approval, is expected to sign it into law.

The funding will allow the school's Delta Dental of New Jersey Special Care Center to help more patients with disabilities, including those with autism, who face many barriers to dental care. The money will be used to pay for extra staffing and additional surgical resources that are used to treat the many special care patients who need general anesthesia.

The center logged 7,757 special needs patient visits in 2017. In New Jersey, more than 10% of the population, which is equal to about 911,000 people, has at least one disability.

A severe shortage of special needs dentists along with a booming population of patients with physical and behavioral disabilities has left special needs providers at the special care center and beyond struggling to meet the demand.

Recognizing that more needs to be done to address the needs of this growing population of patients, the Commission on Dental Accreditation voted in August to require all U.S. dental schools to train students to manage and treat patients with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

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