(New York, NY) – The New York State Academic Dental Centers applauds Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature for funding NYSADC’s Fellowship to Address Oral Health Disparities in the FY2O23 budget at $750,000. The goal of the program is to increase access to dental care for New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

According to a 2017 report, the number one unmet health need for individuals with I/DD is adequate dental care. Currently no region in New York State has the capacity to appropriately treat people with severe to profound intellectual disability, many of whom require care in hospital settings. This ultimately creates long waitlists and forces people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to travel far distances for appointments that should be routine. This gap in dental care for people with special needs often results in poor overall health, and significantly impacts the daily activities and quality of life for these individuals.

NYSADC’s intensive year-long program provides fellows who have completed dental school and a residency program with hands-on experience treating people with I/DD under the supervision of faculty with deep expertise in special needs dentistry. Additionally, fellows have teaching and research responsibilities. Upon completion of the program, fellows commit to providing care for people with special needs for at least one year in New York State. 

“The shortage of highly trained professionals to attend to the oral health needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has led to an unsustainable situation in which people may be waiting 18 months or more for much-needed dental care. This harms their quality of life and their overall health,” said NYSADC President Jonathan Teyan. NYSADC’s Fellowship to Address Oral Health Disparities will improve access to care in the short term and also grow the number of dental providers in the state who have the training to treat this often-overlooked population over the long term.”

NYSADC thanks State Senator John W. Mannion for proposing that the state legislature allocate funding to the Fellowship to Address Oral Health Disparities, one of the only state-supported special needs dental fellowship programs in the country. This support will ensure that New York State creates a pipeline of early career dentists prepared to meet the needs of its community and continues leading the way.

“New state investment in this training program specifically for dentists treating patients with I/DD will improve people’s health and benefit families across the state,” said State Senator John W. Mannion. “Currently, there are only a handful of these dentists serving thousands of patients across the state, creating a significant hardship in accessing proper medical care. This budget will lead to more dentists who have the unique skills and training that’s needed to best serve all New Yorkers.”

The fellowship will support six earlier career dentists for the 2022-2023 academic year, one at each of New York State’s dental schools:​​ Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, The School of Dental Medicine at SUNY Buffalo, Eastman Institute for Oral Health at the University of Rochester, Stonybrook University School of Dental Medicine, NYU School of Medicine & Dentistry and Touro College of Dental Medicine. The program was successfully piloted in 2021 with the support of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.