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28 March 2024

Year of gratitude: Embracing our values


It’s our mission and our passion — transforming lives ― through scientific discovery, teaching, patient care and community engagement. Together, through our collective efforts, we are making tremendous strides to improve health for our communities.

Showcased through the vignettes below are stories of gratitude, reflecting our collective achievements and embodying the values we all embrace and live each and every day at UF Health.

UF College of Dentistry

Access to oral health care for persons with special needs is one of the most pressing concerns across the nation. It’s created by multiple hurdles but especially an acute shortage of qualified providers. For over a decade, the University of Florida College of Dentistry has focused on innovative dental solutions for these vulnerable groups and, during 2023, added significant services in four UF-owned and affiliated dental centers to care for adults and children with special needs.

Not long after beginning to provide oral health care at the Marion County Department of Health in late 2023, Bryan Smallwood, D.M.D., a 2022 UF College of Dentistry graduate and now an assistant professor at the college, had a small but meaningful breakthrough with a patient in his 40s. The patient, who has developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder, experienced a lifetime of high anxiety during dental care. The referring dentist thought the patient would require care under general anesthesia due to his history of dental fear and anxiety.

Funding from a new CareQuest grant to the college to provide oral health for persons with special needs allowed Smallwood to take time with the patient and actively listen to him and the patient’s mother to fully understand their needs and concerns. “Just spending time with him, which most dentists can’t do in a normal practice environment, I realized that he wanted to know how things worked and to understand what was happening,” Smallwood said.

Smallwood gave the patient a mirror so he could watch during his exam and feel reassured. That simple act made a world of difference. For the first time in the patient’s life, his treatment anxiety lessened and Smallwood was able to restore the patient’s teeth in the dental office that same day, using only local anesthesia and without sedation.


Source: https://ufhealth.org/

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