Learning How to be a Dentist for Adults with Disabilities


Enhancing the education of dental students

My son 30-year-old son Matthew is autistic and has been going to the same dentist since he was 10 years old. Dr. Troy “gets”Matthew, so therefore Matthew loves going to the dentist.

Recently, it seemed practical that Matthew switch to a dentist closer to Santa Cruz, CA. where he is living now.

The one that was recommended examined Matthew with a handheld video camera that projected Matthew’s teeth, fillings, flaws and all magnified 25x and onto a screen. Matthew looked wide eyed as the dentist went tooth by tooth. While things looked pretty much as they should, Matthew began to panic.

“That movie is scaring me. Are my teeth falling out?” he asked the dentist.

“Most kids like you love to see their teeth on the screen,” the dentist replied.

Kids like you.

It’s experiences like this that make the work of the Special Hope Foundation so necessary. We are proud to award grants to organizations like the one we are profiling today:


The JVS-Tri-County Dental Program is Southfield Michigan

Their plan

This collaborative project between JVS (through its Tri-County Dental Program), the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry (UDM) and Community Living Services, Inc. (CLS) creates a dental home at UDM for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and enhances the education of dental students.

The program gives dental students general and clinical experience with people who have special needs, and empowers patients with disabilities to guide student dentists as “co-teachers.”

With increased exposure to this population, dental students’ confidence to treat them will grow. Ultimately, they will be encouraged to care for patients with I/DD in their future dental practices.


The mission of the Special Hope Foundation is to promote the establishment of comprehensive healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities designed to meet their unique and fundamental needs.

2017-06-20T16:37:24+00:00 December 1st, 2016|Blog|

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