Tufts OpenCourseware
Authors: John Morgan, Bonnie F. Zimble

Introduction to Special Care in Dentistry:

Organizations to Meet the Needs of

Persons with Disabilities

Special Care in Dentistry
John Morgan, DDS
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, 2008

Study Questions

  1. What is the purpose and philosophy of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH)?

  2. What is the primary purpose of the Campaign of Concern (BRIDGE)?

  3. Which three organizations comprise the coalition called the Special Care Dentistry Association (SCDA)?

  4. What is the mission of the Southern Association of Institutional Dentists (SAID)?

  5. Describe the goals of the Tufts Dental Facility (TDF) network of clinics.

Four important organizations assist in meeting the dental needs of persons with developmental disabilities, the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH), the Special Care Dentistry Association, the Southern Association of Institutional Dentists and the Tufts Dental Facilities Serving Persons with Special Needs. Here is a description of each …

The National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH)
The NFDH is a public, non-profit organization incorporated in 1974 by members of the Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped.  

  • The purpose of the NFDH has been to decrease the need for dental care among persons with disabilities by controlling the incidence and severity of oral disease, and by sensitizing dental caregivers to the needs of this population.

  • NFDH’s philosophy is that dental delivery systems must maintain a comprehensive, coordinated effort at the community level that serves to reduce an otherwise “crisis-motivated” method of care for persons with disabilities.

  • Click here to visit the NFDH web site.

  • Click here to read about the Bridge/Campaign of Concern project.

Special Care Dentistry Association (SCDA)
The Special Care Dentistry Association (SCDA) is a forum for professionals in dental and other health fields to promote improved oral health for people with special needs.

SCDA is the coalition of three well-established independent organizations:  

  • American Association of Hospital Dentists

  • Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities, and

  • American Society for Geriatric Dentistry

These three organizations, which share a similar mission, realized that by joining forces they could pool their resources and be more effective in accomplishing their goals. SCDA maintains a comprehensive website, publishes a bi-monthly journal and newsletter, and organizes an annual National Conference on Special Care issues.  

  • Click here for more information on the Special Care Dentistry Association.

Southern Association of Institutional Dentists (SAID)
The Southern Association of Institutional Dentists (SAID) was organized in 1966 to bring together dentists and other dental professionals who wished to share ideas on how to better provide dental care to institutionalized patients with mental retardation. Since then, SAID has expanded both in scope and in membership. Its scope now also includes the mentally ill client, and its membership consists of full-time institutional dental professionals as well as practitioners who, in other settings, treat patients who are developmentally disabled, mentally ill, and/or medically compromised.

’s mission is to improve the oral health of people with disabilities through service, education, and advocacy.”  

  • Click here to learn more about the Southern Association of Institutional Dentists.

Tufts Dental Facility Serving Persons with Special Needs (TDF)
The Tufts Dental Facilities (TDF) is a network of dental clinics located throughout Massachusetts that offer comprehensive dental services for persons with a wide range of disabilities. The clinics are staffed by experienced personnel in an environment that is sensitive to the patient with special needs. TDF is instrumental in improving access to care for the disabled population, through its sites for the education of dental residents, students, and allied dental professionals. TDF also participates in one of the largest O.R. dental rehabilitation programs in the country, completing over 400 cases per year.