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With a centralized location and specialized care, YNHH Dental programs experience record visits

dental programs

Yale New Haven Hospital’s Dental programs include Adult, Pediatric and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery teams.

More people have been seeking care at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Adult and Pediatric Dental programs and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center, and it’s not only those who are catching up on dental care they postponed during the height of the pandemic.

The overarching YNHH dental and oral health programs unified into a single, state-of-the art clinic space based on the vision and efforts of the Dental Department’s leadership team. 

“Comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, high-quality care is now delivered in a seamless and efficient manner,” said Derek Steinbacher, DMD, MD, chief of the Dental Department and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. “COVID has been challenging throughout the health system, but the Dental Department’s response and rebound have been almost unparalleled.” 

“Even before the pandemic, YNHH’s dental services were experiencing steady growth in patient volumes,” added Cassandra Carlin, Dental Program administrator. 

Program leaders attribute the growth to a number of factors, including adding more dental providers and staff and moving the Adult Dental Program and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery from different locations to join the Pediatric program at One Long Wharf. The Long Wharf site has plenty of free parking and is on a bus line. Dentists in local private practices are referring patients to YNHH specialists for consults and treatment, further contributing to the patient volume increase.  

“Having all of the services under one roof allows us to more efficiently provide comprehensive care,” said Michael Sultan, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry Program director. “If I need a consult from an oral surgeon, I can just go across the hall versus referring the patient out.”

YNHH’s Department of Dentistry comprises oral surgeons, general and pediatric dentists and some of the top physician residents in the country. Other specialists include endodontists, who perform root canals; periodontists, specializing in gum disease; prosthodontists, specializing in dentures, crowns and prosthetics for trauma and cancer patients; and orthodontists, who help prevent and correct poorly positioned teeth and jaws.

The Adult Program serves patients with highly complex medical histories whom most dental practices will not treat. Providers often coordinate special needs patients’ medical care with other specialists, including oral maxillofacial surgeons and laryngologists. The program is one of only a few in Connecticut that treats special needs patients under general anesthesia in the operating room.

The Pediatric Dental Department also treats patients in the OR – more than 850 in the past year. 

“Many pediatric dentists do not have privileges for, or access to, these facilities,” Dr. Sultan said. 

The Pediatric team provides comprehensive dental services, including routine care and treatment for emergencies, infections and pain. 

YNHH’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) service performs a wide variety of minor and major office-based procedures, including outpatient oral surgery, surgery for impacted teeth, dental implants and bone grafting. Surgeons also perform procedures to reconstruct or correct the jaws; manage jaw cysts and tumors; and treat maxillofacial trauma and infection. Most routine OMS procedures are performed at the One Long Wharf clinic; more-advanced procedures are performed in YNHH ORs. The OMS team also includes dental assistants, hygienists, billers, schedulers, an OR scheduler and administrative staff. 

“The move to One Long Wharf and expansion of facilities and specialties have accelerated our growth and offered great departmental collaboration,” Carlin said. “But the biggest draw for patients is the expertise of our amazing dentists, surgeons, residents and hardworking staff, and the exceptional experience they provide.”