At 38 feet long and decorated with all those colors as well as the MCHD Smile Express map logo, it’s very noticeable. We started treating public school students in Braxton County in September.
It also happens to be National Dental Hygiene Month, so the timing is very fortuitous. Taking care of your teeth is a year-round job, but October is a great time to have a conversation about dental care. As part of National Dental Hygiene Month, the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) emphasizes the daily four: Brush twice a day, floss daily, rinse with mouthwash and chew sugar-free gum.
And then of course, there is the annual two: See your dentist every six months. If you are looking for a dental home, MCHD Dentistry is a full-practice dental office that accepts many private insurances, Medicaid and CHIP. We also have a new patient special and a sliding-scale fee.
As Tiffany noted during her remarks at the Open House, children from low-income families have more than twice as much untreated tooth decay—25 percent—than those from higher-income households at 11 percent. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The difference is linked to inadequate access to dental care, low rates of oral health literacy and the challenge of getting those children through the doors of a dental office,” she added.
Although Medicaid benefits for children ages 1 through 20 fully covers comprehensive dental services, she noted, fewer than half of those enrolled received a preventative dental service in 2014. “Further, only 16 percent of children ages 6 through 9 received a dental sealant on a permanent molar, one of the most effective methods for reducing dental disease in children.”
Services provided by MCHD Smile Express’ staff include an exam by the dentist, an assessment by a public health dental hygienist, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, fluoride treatment, oral health education and minor restorative services.
Also onboard is digital Panorex X-ray equipment, noted MCHD Dentistry’s Dr. Dan Carrier during his remarks. Thanks to new practice management software for the home office in Morgantown and on board MCHD Smile Express, as well as a Cradlepoint router, X-rays can be read on board the bus as well as by Dr. Carrier back in the Morgantown office.
“We have the technology in place where Tiffany can take an X-ray on a patient in Braxton County and see it on her computer right away,” he said. “As soon as she sees it, I can see it on my computer in Morgantown.”
As of last Friday, the number of students seen in Braxton and Monongalia counties by MCHD Smile Express was 128. That figure has grown since then and will continue to do so Tiffany, along with on-board dentist Dr. Mike Wiener and dental assistant Velvet Urgo, treat students not only in Braxton and Mon but also Lewis and Harrison, which are the next stops on the MCHD Smile Express.
And that means less tooth decay, healthier students and bigger smiles all around.