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This version of NSU News has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of NSU News, visit news.nova.edu.

This version of SharkBytes has been archived as of February 28, 2019. To search through archived articles, visit nova.edu/search. To access the new version of SharkBytes, visit sharkbytes.nova.edu.

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Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796


SharkBytes Archives


Division of Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314-7796

(954) 262-5353
(800) 541-6682 x25353
Fax: (954) 262-3954

NSU’s Dental School Receives $437,000 Grant to Train Florida Dentists to Provide Care for Special Needs Patients

FT. LAUDERDALE-DAVIE Fla. — Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) College of Dental Medicine recently received a two-year, $437, 616 grant from the DentaQuest Foundation to train practicing dentists in Florida to provide care for persons with special needs.

The Foundation’s grant will be used to develop and provide a comprehensive skills-building program to dentists over a two-year period. Some of the dentists are private practitioners while others work in public health settings such as county health department clinics.  The program reviews current concepts through online instructional modules and is supplemented with hands-on clinical experience.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of dentists who have the knowledge and confidence to provide quality care to persons with challenging physical, medical, and behavioral needs. This includes individuals with acquired and developmental disabilities, as well as those who have special challenges such as physical movement or communication difficulties. Florida, along with the rest of the nation, is facing a severe shortage of dentists who have the experience and skills to serve populations with special needs.

“This training grant is extremely important because there are so few oral health providers available to provide services for persons with special health needs and their families,” said Barry Waterman, D.M.D., project director and assistant professor at NSU’s College of Dental Medicine. “The training at NSU is vital to augmenting the skills of practicing dental professionals so they may more capably and confidently provide services to these populations.”

“The needs of persons with special health challenges often are not recognized or addressed, leading to progressively more advanced dental problems and compromised health status,” Waterman added. “Since there are not enough providers with specialized care management skills, ability to access dental services is a serious and common challenge.”

Training for the dentists is provided by NSU assistant professors Carrigan Pick, D.M.D. and Steven Ellen, D.D.S., who together bring to the project more than 40 years’ experience treating individuals with developmental disabilities.  The preferred treatment method is one of behavior modification, with the goal of giving potentially difficult patients the strategies necessary to cooperate in their care. Doctors Pick and Ellen have found that the skills are transferrable to the training participants and the techniques they are learning have increased their confidence in offering special needs dentistry.

“Before the special needs training, I thought working with special health needs patients was difficult in an office setting and that you could not change their behavior,” said Haychell Saraydar, D.D.S., a Pinellas County Health Department dentist who participated in the NSU training.  “With the training, I have learned that you can negotiate/change behaviors in the most positive way to facilitate treatment and be able to help the patients with their dental needs outside a hospital setting.”

Amy Luce, D.M.D. a dentist with the Pinellas County Health Department, said the training is helpful for dentists who deal with these special-needs patients. “Most of all, I learned that these patients are very manageable and 100 percent treatable, which I did not realize before taking this training.”

About NSU’s College of Dental Medicine:  When the NSU College of Dental Medicine admitted its charter class in August 1997, it became the first new school of dental medicine to open in the United States in 24 years. In the ensuing years, our distinguished faculty, advanced technology, and innovative curriculum have allowed us to create a uniquely rich learning environment for our students, while earning us the respect of the dental profession and dental educators throughout the world. Students of the college benefit from our state-of-the-art educational and clinical facilities, which feature the latest in computer and video technology, and from our distinguished professors, recruited from throughout the United States.

About Nova Southeastern University: Located in Davie, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic fully accredited Florida University dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs of distinction from preschool through the professional and doctoral levels. NSU has more than 29,000 students and is the eighth largest not-for-profit independent institution nationally. The University awards associate’s, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, specialist, and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields, including business, counseling, computer and information sciences, education, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, dentistry, various health professions, law, marine sciences, early childhood, psychology and other social sciences.  Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU was also awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification in 2010 for the University’s significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement.   For more information about NSU visit www.nova.edu.

Media Contact:
Ken Ma, NSU Office of Public Affairs
954-262-5408 (office), 954-621-7961 (cell), ken.ma@nova.edu

Felecia Henderson | NSU Office of Public Affairs
954-262-5315 (office) | 954-383-4695 (cell) | fhenders@nova.edu