Diana, age 27, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. She has lived with her grandmother nearly her whole life. Growing up, Diana attended a Portland public school as a student in the special education program. After she completed her education she was connected to Trellis (trellis-or.com), a special education program that uses a team model in which families and professionals work together to develop social and independent life skills.
The Trellis program pairs Diana with a direct support provider for therapeutic integration into the community twice a week. They accompany her on numerous outings which include shopping malls, art classes, dance lessons, volunteer opportunities, and other group activities. Diana spends much of her free time on the computer, engaged with YouTube or watching her favorite cartoon characters. She loves to breathe new life into her cartoons by writing short stories about the characters.
Diana is able to visit a traditional dental office for exams and cleanings, but she is unable to tolerate more extensive dental treatments. It was for that reason that she was referred to Exceptional Needs Dental Services (ENDS) for hospital dentistry before being referred back to her primary care dentist.
Diana’s grandmother said the ENDS staff were extremely caring and supportive towards Diana and she is grateful that ENDS was able to coordinate the necessary oral procedure for Diana. “The treatment was not as traumatic as she had feared and now Diana has taken a special interest in her dental hygiene.” The care and compassion delivered by ENDS’ providers, along with the dental benefits provided by the Oregon Health Plan, ensure patients receive the treatment they need to continue living a happy and healthy life.
Brandon, age 26, was diagnosed with Autism
at the age of two. He lives with his family and does not communicate verbally.
Brandon enjoys watching Disney musicals and has always been fascinated by
different modes of transportation – boats, planes, and cars.
Brandon’s family spent
much of past year looking into what medical and dental resources were available
to him. Through Oregon Health Plan Medicaid, his dental insurance referred him
to Exceptional Needs Dental Services (ENDS). The ENDS program is a partnership
established by four Oregon dental care organizations:
– Capitol Dental Care
– CareOregon Dental
– Managed Dental Care of Oregon
– Willamette Dental
The ENDS program
provides dental care access to individuals with exceptional needs, serving
those who are functionally impaired, requiring assistance with Activities of
Daily Living (ADL), and are unable to obtain treatment in a traditional office
Before treatment through ENDS, it had been over five years since Brandon had had a full dental exam performed. His Acute Situational Anxiety and Autism meant that he could not be successfully treated in a traditional dental office. However, his new ENDS provider was able to treat him at the hospital under general anesthesia. Brandon’s father Joe said of the experience, “From the time we got to the Hospital – to sign in our son in, to all the nurses, to the anesthesiologist, to the Dentist, and to check out – everything went well.” Thanks to Brandon’s family’s diligence in brushing his teeth and maintaining his oral health, the treating provider reported that Brandon’s teeth were actually in pretty good shape.
Joe says that they feel
lucky to have access to the dental resources that ENDS provides. Brandon’s
father says he had contacted every dentist in his area from the Autistic
Society website and none of them were able to meet Brandon’s needs. The ENDS
Program connects providers throughout Oregon to those that need it most through
the dental care benefits made possible through Oregon Health Plan.
Emily, age 30, suffered from a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to speak or care for herself. In 2017, her life was dramatically altered when she was involved in a head-on collision with a bus. It was originally thought that Emily was going to remain in a coma forever. Her mother, Brenda, was always confident that Emily would recover. While Emily did awake from the coma, the accident has resulted in a life time of challenges for her.
When Emily regained consciousness it quickly became apparent that she was in a great deal of oral pain. She was refusing to eat and she would not let anyone near her mouth. Emily was referred to Exceptional Needs Dental Services (ENDS) for mobile dentistry after a traditional dental clinic was unable to accommodate her treatment needs. An ENDS provider, Dr. John Aspros, visited Emily at her care facility where he determined that he would need to treat her further at a hospital to help alleviate her pain.
Brenda says that since undergoing hospital dentistry Emily’s teeth look beautiful and that Emily has begun to allow care givers to brush her teeth, and she continues to regain the ability to eat. Now that Emily’s pain has diminished and her voice has returned she enjoys singing along to her favorite funk-rock tunes. Her smile remains visible as she proceeds through her recovery, which her mother believes will come full circle.
Brenda admits, “As a frantic Mom, I wouldn’t have known what to do about getting Emily’s teeth taken care of. I can’t imagine how I would feel if, when Emily’s voice returned, she asked me why I let her teeth rot. I don’t know what I would have done without your program.” Behind every patient is an incredibly thankful family. The care that ENDS and providers like Dr. Aspros give to patients across Oregon is vital to maintaining a positive quality of life. Thanks to the Medicaid dental benefits provided by Oregon Health Plan, ENDS is able to make a difference that radiates through our patients’ smiles and into the lives of the people that love them.
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