weather icon Clear

New clinic offers special needs dentistry

Dental patients with autism, Down syndrome and high dental anxiety have a new home.

Sedation Dental Surgical Center, the first full-sedation clinic of its kind in Nevada, opened its doors in North Las Vegas last month.

The clinic — home to 10 employees, including two full-time dentists, anesthesiologists and nurses — put under its first patient June 17, though it was far from Dr. Steven Delisle’s first operation.

The 32-year-old dentist-anesthesiologist did his medical residency in Loma Linda, Calif., and has lived in Southern Nevada since 2009, when he first recognized the niche for a special needs dentistry practice in Las Vegas.

Delisle has started four dental clinics since then, though only the recently opened North Las Vegas location offers special needs patients the full range of possible sedation options — from gas to full anesthesia.

According to Delisle, parents of those with autism and Down syndrome find their kids aren’t always welcome in other dental offices across the valley.

Many more, he said, simply don’t know their child is in pain.

“To be honest, a lot of dentists don’t like to deal with the special needs population, and a lot of them aren’t set up to handle special needs dentistry,” Delisle said. “Sometimes parents of special needs children don’t know when they need to come in because their kids can’t tell them, so we’re really just reaching the tip of the iceberg, and our biggest problem is still just getting the word out.”

The new North Las Vegas center features two operating rooms, a surgical staging area and a recovery room big enough for more than a dozen new and returning patients.

Located within miles of most of the center’s major nonprofit partners, including two major referrals at the Danville and Chrysalis group homes, Delisle said the location is perfect for patients previously seen at smaller, less well-equipped Sedation Dental offices dotted around the city.

Cutting patient travel times and making room for additional staff members are two of the main ways his group hopes the new center can help reduce stress on special needs and high dental anxiety patients.

“Most people don’t understand that even a simple surgery can be a lot more traumatic for someone with special needs,” Delisle said. “So working with the nonprofits up here in North Las Vegas, working with all this new equipment, we think we can finally give them the ideal environment.”

Jennifer Strobel, with Families for the Effective Autism Treatment, has personal experience with some less-than-ideal dental environments.

Her 14-year-old daughter Peyton, who is autistic, has a high pain tolerance, making it hard for dentists to diagnose or sedate her. Strobel found Delisle’s practice a few years ago.

Strobel, the executive director of the 3,000-member autism advocacy group that has since become the dental center’s largest nonprofit partner, has kept Peyton on Delisle’s patient list ever since.

“He’s worked with a lot of our families, and he sponsors our monthly newsletter and pool party,” she said of Delisle. “He’s been great with my daughter, and as far as full sedation, he’s the only game in town.”

Sedation Dental Surgical Center is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 4090 N. Martin Luther King Blvd. For more information, contact the center at 702-749-4850 or visit lasvegasspecialneedsdentistry.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.