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UW/H: New Outpatient Dental Clinic for the Disabled

Photo: A. Kramer

The dental clinic at the University of Witten/Herdecke is currently the only university dental clinic in Germany that has a professorship and department focused on dental care for the disabled. The clinic is supported by the Software AG Foundation, which co-financed its establishment in 2015. Here, research and teaching as well as dental care emphasize the improvement of life quality and medical care for individuals with disabilities. Since recently, the U/WH’s exemplary work includes an inclusive dental clinic in Volmarstein.

Every Tuesday in Bethanien House, located 10 km from the clinic, dental care is provided for severely disabled residents from two institutions run by the  Evangelische Stiftung Volmarstein (ESV). An extra mobile care unit had to be purchased for this field office, explains Dr. Andreas Schulte, professor for disabled dental medicine.  “This enables us to treat most of the residents’ dental problems as if they were in the university clinic in Witten,” he notes. “The only thing not possible on location at the moment are treatments that require general anesthesia.”

For the residents of Bethanien House and another ESV residence, this care lifts an enormous burden. Previously, the logistics were daunting, and the psychological impact on disabled patients high. When they had dental problems, the residents had to travel (with a caregiver) to the clinic in Witten, which could require up to four hours for a single appointment. On location in Volmarstein, appointments require considerably less time, and since they take place in a familiar location, are also less taxing for the patients.