After over 40 years on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital (SLCH) medical staff, Donald Huebener, DDS, MS, MAEd, retired in November 2014. Dr. Huebener served as the director of pediatric dentistry at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and professor of surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery division, at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM).
“Dr. Huebener was instrumental in the development and continued success of the pediatric dental program,” says Paula Vise, SLCH director of radiology, dental clinic and vascular access. “Most significantly, he spent his career at SLCH advocating for children with few options for dental care. His patients love him as do all of his co-workers and friends here at Children’s.”
While in training to become a dentist, Dr. Huebener found he wanted to do three things: care for special-needs children, teach and conduct research. Those goals were met when he joined the Washington University faculty in 1971. At the time, a cleft lip/craniofacial program did not exist at Children’s Hospital, and there was limited dental activity. A proposal by Dr. Huebener; Paul Weeks, MD, plastic surgeon; and Woodrow O’Brien, DDS, to Philip Dodge, MD, chair of the department of pediatrics at Washington University, resulted in the establishment of Children’s Hospital’s Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Institute in 1978—the largest and oldest center of its kind in the Midwest. He will continue to serve as a consultant to these specialties in his retirement.
Dr. Huebener also was instrumental in developing the hospital’s pediatric dentistry program, which now serves thousands of infants and children, the majority with special health needs. His reward throughout the years has been playing a part in helping the sickest, most complicated patients who often cannot afford to receive help anywhere else.
Dr. Huebener is the author/co-author of chapters about cleft lip and palate and pediatric dentistry that have appeared in such books as Dentistry for the Child and Adolescent, Pediatric Otolaryngology – Principles and Practice Pathways and Comprehensive Cleft Care. He has given numerous national and international seminars and presentations, and he served on the consulting team that aided the Kingdom of Thailand in establishing protocols for cleft and craniofacial programs at two of the country’s universities.
Dr. Huebener has served as an officer or committee member for a number of organizations, including Administrative Board chairman for the American Dental Education Association Council of Faculties, and president of the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He is an examining member of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.
Dr. Huebener obtained his DDS from WUSM in 1969 and completed an internship at Babies and Children's Hospital, University Hospital of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1970. In 1971, he earned a master of science from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, followed by a master of education from WUSM in 1975.
Dr. Huebener’s large family includes his good friend Elizabeth, three siblings and 22 first cousins. He travels extensively for both professional commitments and personal pleasure. He enjoys skiing and sailing.