LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

UCP & LSU Health Dental School Partner to Care for Children and Adults with Special Needs

July 26, 2021

UCP donation check presentation

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater New Orleans has donated $100,000 to support education, patient care and community outreach at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry, benefiting children and adults with special needs.

The donation will provide $60,000 to establish the endowed The United Cerebral Palsy of Greater New Orleans & Dr. Frank Martello Conference and Education in Dentistry Fund, which will support teaching best practices in delivering oral health care to patients with special needs. Dr. Martello, a Clinical Associate Professor of Comprehensive Dentistry and Biomaterials who teaches part-time at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry, played an integral role in creating the partnership with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Greater New Orleans.

The remaining $40,000 will provide direct dental patient care to referred uninsured or underinsured adult patients with special needs.

“This partnership will improve care and access to care for children and adults with special health care needs for years to come,” notes Robert Laughlin, DMD, Dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. “UCP’s generosity will help us graduate more dental professionals prepared to manage the particular needs of these patients while expanding our ability to take care of them now and prevent future complications.”

Individuals with special health care needs may have malocclusion, crossbite, decayed or missing teeth, mouth breathing, thin enamel, as well as periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene, among other conditions.

“I have treated special-needs patients as a volunteer at UCP since 1984, and I’ve seen the urgent need for predoctoral training in this field,” notes Dr. Martello. “Dental care is an essential part of health care, and this generous gift will help future LSU doctors provide treatment to a long-underserved population.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, health care for individuals with special health care needs requires specialized knowledge, as well as increased awareness and attention, adaptation, and accommodative measures beyond what are considered routine. Individuals with special health care needs may also be at an increased risk for oral diseases throughout their lifetime.

“People with behavioral, physical and cognitive differences need special care when visiting the dentist. The training provided with the help of this donation will better prepare dental professionals in Louisiana to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities,” says Kendra Nelson, Executive Director of the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater New Orleans.

LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry is the only dental school in Louisiana and the only one in the nation offering degrees in dentistry, dental hygiene and dental laboratory technology. Three out of every four dentists and dental hygienists practicing in Louisiana today are graduates of the school.

United Cerebral Palsy of Greater New Orleans was founded in 1946 by a group of parents who had children with cerebral palsy and it was incorporated in 1950. It is an affiliate of United Cerebral Palsy, a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy. As one of the largest health nonprofits in America, the UCP mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSU Health New Orleans) educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's health sciences university leader, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine with branch campuses in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous annual economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment or cure disease. To learn more, visit,, or

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