Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 4, Page 10
Alumni Profile - A special dentist

     Laurie Jacobs, Delaware '82, is one of only a handful of dentists
in Delaware who regularly treat severely disabled adults and children.
These patients frequently have decayed teeth and gum disease because
they cannot brush or floss correctly.
     Jacobs estimates that she has treated more than 2,000 persons
with disabilities from Delaware and surrounding states over the last
two years. That work, which requires specialized training and
patience, is one that most dentists shy away from.
     "These are people who have been through clinics and the system
and haven't received much help," says Jacobs, a pediatric dentist.
"For a lot of them, I'm the last resort."
     "I took courses in treating the disabled after I found out that a
cousin of mine with Down's syndrome was having trouble finding a
dentist," she recalls.
     Jacobs followed her father and grandfather into the profession,
and she is married to oral surgeon Barry Roseman.
     "I've known since I was 7 years old what I was going to be," says
Jacobs, a native of Wilmington, Del. "My grandfather practiced in
Elkton, Md., for 68 years. You do what you know. I've been working
around a dentist's office since I was 10."
     A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry,
Jacobs took additional training at the University of Maryland in
College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.
     After graduation, she was hired as the director of dentistry at
the Stockley Center, a state-run home for the mentally retarded in
Georgetown, Del.
     "It was rewarding work, but I found out that I didn't like doing
the institutional thing," says Jacobs. "So, I began my own practice."
     Chuck and Carol Selvaggio's 12-year-old daughter, Emily, has been
a patient of Jacobs for eight years. Emily has cerebral palsy.
     "Emily is not amenable to going to the dentist," says Selvaggio,
who lives in Wilmington. "She's very sensitive to unpleasurable
experiences. Her reactions are more extreme than most children. She
needs to be sedated to have her teeth cleaned. Dr. Jacobs also has
performed oral surgery on her. She's been very good to Emily."
     About 40 percent of Jacobs' practice is working with patients
with disabilities, many of them through Delaware's Division of Mental
     "It's important to make these patients feel comfortable after the
procedures," explains Jacobs. "If a tooth is discolored, I will fix it
if that's what the patient wants. Cosmetics are important, but not as
much as making the patient comfortable and functional."
                                                         -Terry Conway