Dell Children's pediatric dentist helps special needs patients


by Jim Bergamo / KVUE NEWS

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on June 29, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 29 at 10:30 PM

Chances are when you think of Dell Children's Medical Center you don't think of dentistry, but there is one dentist on staff.  She's been there less than a year, and is already booked several months in advance.

Imagine a child with a cleft lip and palate, or a child suffering from Spina Bifida. Most dentists may not have the time or the facilities to handle special needs patients, and they may not have colleagues nearby that can treat problems that often occur with special needs patients.  That's what makes the program at Dell Children's unique.   

Ruby and Esmeralda Hernandez are 2 year old twins, identical in every way, except Ruby was born with Beckman Wiedemann Syndrome, which has resulted in an enlarged tongue.

"Her mouth is always open so she ends up building more calculus on her teeth," said Lisa Jacob D.D.S., a pediatric dentist at Dell Children's Medical Center.

9-year old Joshua Bentley was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate.

"Everything in there was just in the wrong place," said Karen Bentley, Joshua's mother.

Both Joshua and Ruby are treated at Dell Children's by pediatric dentist Lisa Jacob.  She's been at Dell less than a year and already has a waiting list of 125 special needs patients.

"These patients had no where to go. We see autistic patients, patients who are wheelchair bound, patients on stretchers, any kind of medically complex area," said Jacob.

Jacob works out of the Dell Children's Craniofacial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Center, where she teams with plastic surgeons, speech pathologists and neurosurgeons all under one roof.

"The teeth, the jaws, the repairs all go together. So it makes it a lot easier when you are on the same team to work together to coordinate that," said Jacob.

Ruby will have surgery this Friday to remove four teeth.  As for Joshua, he faces another 9 years of surgeries on his cleft lip and palate.

"I don't like going into surgeries and it's hard. It's hard to leave my parents," said Joshua.

It's hard on his parents as well, but they are thankful for Doctor Jacob and the rest of the team at Dell Children's.

"We know that it could have been something wrong with him that couldn't be fixed. So it is nice to know that there is a way to be fixed and he will be a very normal and healthy child," said Karen Bentley.

The dental services at Dell are not free of charge.  Doctor Jacob says insurance or Medicaid covers about 70 percent of the patients she sees.

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