Special Needs Dentistry - Ensuring Beautiful Smiles for Incredible Kids

Children with special needs often face major dental care issues. A variety of medications and medical conditions may compromise the health of their teeth, while physical and developmental disabilities can make daily dental hygiene and regular dentist's visits extremely challenging.

Treating these unique dental issues requires the skill and compassion of a pediatric dentist experienced in special needs care along with the latest dental technology. But finding such a resource in Illinois, especially one that accepts Medicaid, is nearly impossible - until now!

The Special Needs Dental Program, a collaboration between the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (SIU/SDM), Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation (SIHF) and Touchette Regional Hospital, provides an affordable dental care option for families with no place else to turn.

The Special Needs Dental Program is funded in part by a grant from the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation.

Who We Treat

Every child is different; therefore no treatment is the same. The Special Needs Dental Program works with families and evaluates each child individually to discover the options that work best for his or her disability with the least amount of emotional stress. Our dental team is experienced serving children with:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Autism
  • ADHD & other neurological disorders
  • Genetic syndromes

Our Services

The Special Needs Dental Program provides preventative and restorative dental care, including the treatment of cavities and extractions. All dentists are trained in treating children with special needs.

Depending on the dental issues, sedation needs and age of the child, care is provided in one of three environments:

  • No sedation: Dental Services Department at McKinley Health Center, Granite City, Ill.
  • Minimal to deep sedation: SIU/SDM, East St. Louis, Ill. (for children of any age)
  • General anesthesia: Touchette Regional Hospital, Centreville, Ill. - treatment is delivered by a Dental Anesthesiologist and Dental Surgeon (for children ages 3-10)

How to Secure Care for Your Child

You or your home dentist can call our Special Needs Patient Advocate at 618-332-5245. She will listen to your concerns and guide you to the best path for treatment.

All children will be seen first by a SIHF dentist for an initial evaluation and treatment. SIHF offers pediatric dental services at eight locations across Southern Illinois. In 20% of cases, a SIHF dentist can treat issues in the office without any sedation.

Children with more serious conditions that require some level of sedation will be referred to one of the treatment options noted above: McKinley Health Center, SIU/SDM or Touchette.

Our Dentists

Dr. Kenneth Rawson, Pediatric Dentist - Dr. Rawson is a full-time faculty member at SIU/SDM and Section Head of Pediatric Dentistry. He has provided dental care and surgery for children, ages 3-10, under general anesthesia at Touchette since 2006. Dr. Andrea Bell, Dentist Anesthesiologist - Dr. Bell is an assistant professor in Section of Pediatric Dentistry, Department of Growth, Development and Structure at SIU/SDM. A diplomate of the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology, she provides all levels of sedation (minimal sedation to general anesthesia). Dr. Gary Lindsay, Dentist - Dr. Lindsay is the Dentistry Program Chair for SIHF. He practices at McKinley Health Center and specializes in in-office preventative and restorative care for patients with autism, cerebral palsy and other special needs.