Penn Dental opens new perio clinic

Students in the School of Dental Medicine’s periodontal clinic used to work in a space first built in the 1940’s, sitting on chairs nearly a quarter-century old.

All of that has now changed with the sparkling new D. Walter Cohen and Morton Amsterdam Periodontal Clinic, which opened its doors to patients late last month. The new facility, constructed as part of the school’s Capital Improvement Plan, is a state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility built both to enhance the educational experience of the school’s students and better accommodate the thousands of patients who are seen at the clinic each year.

In fact, for the first time, patients at the clinic will be treated to soft, relaxing music that will hopefully calm jittery nerves.

“Before, all you would hear is drilling,” says Joseph Fiorellini, chair of the department of periodontics, speaking about the old facility. “This is a little more distracting.”

The 4,600 square foot facility is situated in the same location as the old clinic, but has been utterly transformed. The space features 18 dental chairs, three surgery rooms and a recovery room for patients. Doctors can use high-tech digital radiography and operate in a surgical suite specially outfitted with cameras so demonstrations can be transmitted live to classrooms throughout the school. The clinic also has a student laboratory and a locker room for dental students and staff.

These upgrades make it the premier periodontal clinic not only in the country, says Fiorellini, but in the entire world.

Fiorellini says he attended every design and construction meeting to ensure the architectural firm of Buell Kratzer Powell created a space that could withstand a high volume of traffic from students, residents and patients. “There’s a lot of need here, economically,” he says. “We do a lot of free care for the residents of West Philadelphia.”

The clinic is named for two Penn Dental Medicine alumni who are considered pioneers in the fields of periodontics and periodontal prosthesis. D. Walter Cohen first joined the Penn Dental faculty in 1951, was professor and chairman of the Department of Periodontics from 1963 to 1973 and Dean of the school from 1972 until 1983. Morton Amsterdam joined the faculty in 1953, and served as Professor of Periodontics and Periodontal Prosthesis from 1967 until 1992.

“It’s really an honor to name it for Dr. Cohen and Dr. Amsterdam, because they’re some of the pioneers in dentistry,” says Fiorellini. “This is one of the first times they’ve been honored together.”

Originally published Feb. 21, 2008.

Originally published on February 21, 2008