Providing dental care to the disabled

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NEW YORK (CBS) Steven Dolinsky, 17, recently visited a multisensory room to reduce his anxiety before getting his teeth cleaned. It's part of the new NYU Dentistry's Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities.

Melinda Dolinsky/Mother: The sensory input is great for Steven. Right?
Steven Dolinsky: Yes.
Melinda Dolinsky: Yes.
Reporter: Does it make you feel calm?
Steven Dolinsky: It does

Steven has Williams syndrome. People with the genetic condition often have issues with their teeth.

"Steven's had-- I lost count-- anywhere from 8-10 extractions because he had-- it looked like a shark. He'd have double rows of teeth," mom Melinda said.

The new center is geared to meet the specific needs of Steven and others with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Ron Kosinski says the center is needed because research has shown people with disabilities often lack access to dental care.

"In general, a lot of these patients will go to the dentist and the dentist will tell them they can't treat them, that their scope of their disability precludes them from being to be able to deliver the quality of care that they would like," Kosinski said.

The facility boasts extra-large treatment rooms to accommodate both wheelchairs and caregivers. There's even one room with a wheelchair lift so that patients do not need to be transferred to a conventional dental chair for treatment.

For Steven's mom, Melinda, the extra-long time slots are key.

"Children like Steven really need to be in a place where people can take the time to do what they need to do," she said.

Kosinski expects other dental schools will follow NYU's lead and develop similar centers.