News | June 6, 2012

Children's Hospital Los Angeles Craniofacial Orthodontic Fellowship Receives Full Accreditation From The American Dental Association (ADA)

Program becomes only the second in the U.S. to be awarded full accreditation by the ADA’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Children's Hospital Los Angeles craniofacial orthodontic fellowship recently achieved a prestigious milestone when it became the second program in the U.S. to be awarded full accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.

“This is a result of the work and dedication of Dr. Stephen Yen, DMD, PhD, who has been providing highly specialized care for children with craniofacial anomalies here at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for more than 20 years in coordination with our world renowned Craniofacial and Cleft Center, now under the direction of Dr. Mark Urata, MD, DDS,” says Jose Polido, DDS, MS, division chief for Dentistry and Orthodontics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

"This is about helping children with facial birth defects," says Dr. Yen. “It is a core mission of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to treat these kids."

The accreditation award was preceded by a rigorous written review and on-site visits from the chairs of orthodontic programs from Columbia University and the University of Washington in Seattle. Only one other program in the country has achieved similar status – the craniofacial clinical center at New York University.

The road to accreditation began in 2009 when the ADA determined it needed to bolster its ranks of orthodontic specialists who are trained to treat children with facial birth defects. In 2010, the ADA began accepting applications for Accreditation of Clinical Fellowships in Craniofacial and Special Care Orthodontics. According to Dr. Yen, “Most postgraduate orthodontics programs in the country do not fully train orthodontic residents in the care of children with craniofacial anomalies. A fellowship in craniofacial orthodontics has been in place at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles since 2000, but we wanted to go through the peer review process for accreditation. Hopefully, this program can prepare the next generation of orthodontists who will be trained in craniofacial orthodontics and give the fellows the tools to build a craniofacial team in their own hospital."

The demand is enormous. Cleft lip and palate occurs in about one in 700 live births in the U.S. and the birth defect is especially common among children of Asian and Native American heritage, showing up in about one in 450 births in both cultures. "We don’t know its exact genetic cause as we can’t pin it down to one gene defect,” explains Dr. Yen. In addition to his stellar work at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, he also serves on the research faculty at the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at the University of Southern California (USC), and as an associate professor at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.

Here at the craniofacial program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the craniofacial team typically treats children with common facial birth defects, including cleft lip and palate, cleft palate and hemifacial microsomia, which comprise about 70 percent of the patient load. But they also see children with some of the very rare craniofacial anomalies that most other providers only see in a textbook. Children come from as far away as the California’s Central Valley, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico to receive treatment. “One child rides 16 hours on a bus from Juarez, Mexico with his mother for orthodontic appointments,” says Dr. Yen.

In all, the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles craniofacial team follows more than 3,000 craniofacial patients, ranging in age from a few weeks after birth to 19, making it among the largest programs in the country. “I do not treat patients alone but as part of a team of dedicated clinicians that include nurses, plastic surgeons, otolaryngologists, geneticists, pediatricians, pulmonologists, speech pathologists, hearing specialists, child psychologists, pediatric dentists, prosthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons," Yen says. "They are a great group to work with.”

Each Thursday morning, the craniofacial team collaborates to treatment plan for about 20 patients. “It’s personally rewarding,” Yen says. “And the patients are very grateful.”

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
The hospital’s Craniofacial and Cleft Center is housed in the Division of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital in California and among the best in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious US News & World Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. The hospital is also one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

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