After the unveiling of a new mobile dental van, Chautauqua County children will have even more reasons to smile.
The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has been serving oral health care needs of children in Chautauqua County for more than 15 years, and it will be able to offer even better service thanks to a newly acquired 'S-miles To Go' van.
The dental school celebrated the unveiling of the new 'state-of-the-art' mobile dental van on Thursday at Fletcher Elementary School. The unveiling featured tours and comments from dignitaries and professionals. In attendance were State Sen. Senator Cathy Young; Michael Glick, DMD, dean and professor of the UB dental school; Linda Swanson, executive director of the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation; and Barbara Moore, DDS, mobile dental van clinic director.
The new ‘S-miles To Go’ mobile dental van features a wheelchair life, a panoramic X-ray unit, digital radiography, an intake and education area and electronic patient records.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
"This is an awesome resource, and it actually tackles a very difficult problem that is prevalent in rural areas where we don't have as much access to quality health care," said Sen. Young. "This is a way to educate children early on about dental health and hopefully they develop habits that carry them on through their lifetime. At the same time it improves their ability to be healthy to be able to perform in school because if you have a tooth infection, or some other dental problem, its going to affect how you're able to carry out your schoolwork.
"Bringing more access to quality health care is one of the top priorities of the resource commission and the state legislature, and this fits in beautifully. I truly appreciate the foundations that have stepped forward, and the University at Buffalo for their commitment to Chautauqua County. It's great to see the state-of-the-art equipment right here."
The foundations which stepped forward to make this project possible include the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, HRSA, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and the Lenna Foundation.
James Harris, director of clinical business for the university, says that New York State has an initiative called the School Based Health Care program with the idea of taking health care to the kids, as opposed to waiting for the kids to come to the health care.
"The idea is to show up at the school, and with consent from their parents, treat them here," said Harris. "Otherwise they may not get treated because we're the only pediatric dental operation that takes medicaid. So, it's an access issue that kids don't have any other place to go."
According to the university's media advisory, Chautauqua County is designated a Dental Health Professional Shortage Area with few dentists serving medicaid-eligible patients. And, that's why the program visits 24 schools to average 3,100 patient visits each year.
"There is a lack of access to dental care for kids who cannot afford it," said Michael Glick, DMD, dean and professor of the dental school. "So, we have been doing this for 15 years in this community. So, with the help of this van we will be able to reach even more children to provide a care that is needed for them."
The new 'S-miles To Go' van, constructed by LifeLine Mobile, replaced an older model that will stay in working order until a decision is made on what to do with it. The new van is a 42-foot-long, three-chair dental clinic built on a semi-trailer chassis. It features a wheelchair life, a panoramic X-ray unit, digital radiography, an intake and education area and electronic patient records.
"We're going to be able to go a lot faster because we have more capacity with three chairs, and the other only had two," said Harris.
Deana Hazen, dental assistant, added that the van will serve to keep children healthy and in school.
"I explain to parents that if a child's tooth is hurting, or they have an abscess, they aren't going to learn, and they are going to miss more school," said Hazen. "Then they usually understand a little better and let the kids come out with me."
One of the three dentists who works with children on the van is Barbara Moore, DDS, and mobile dental van clinic director. According to Moore, several of the services the dentists on the van can offer include cleaning, operative fillings and extractions and more.
"The key to our program is that we drive from school to school bringing services to the patient so they don't have to come to us," said Moore. "I have my own private practice that I work at three days a week, and I work on the dental van one day week. It's actually not much different because at both locations it's all about the patient. But, in the private office we have more interaction with parents, whereas in the dental van most of the time the parent is not present. So, it gives us an opportunity to really work the patient one-on-one without any parental distraction. But, we always welcome them to come if they want to be there."
For more information or to make an appointment call 560-5127, 866-254-0052 or visit dental.buffalo.edu/Communit yOutreach/MobileDentalVan.aspx.