Bulletin of Dental Education

University of Kentucky Celebrates 25 Years of Mobile Outreach Program

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Every child deserves to receive quality dental care. To help address the needs of Kentucky’s underserved children, the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry (UKCD) operates a mobile outreach program. 

UKCD Mobile Unit

The program aims to:

  • Act as a dental safety net for low-income children who typically are uninsured or have Medicaid coverage.
  • Eliminate existing oral infections to restore childrens’ mouths to a healthy and functional condition.
  • Provide a fun and inviting environment to ensure children leave with a positive experience of dentistry. 

UKCD’s mobile outreach effort also provides UKCD dental students with opportunities to provide care to patients living in the students’ own communities and to broaden their understanding of dental public health issues and the needs of underserved communities.

“Prevention is always the key to improving both oral and general health for all Kentuckians,” says UK President Eli Capilouto, D.M.D., Sc.D. “As president of UK, but also as a dentist with a public health background, I am especially happy to know we are reaching out to children in schools and daycares and providing them the preventive dental care they need to get a good head start on life.”

The Eastern Kentucky Ronald McDonald Care Mobile arm of the outreach program, in operation for 10 years, has seen a decrease in tooth decay rates of nearly 20%—cutting in half the urgent dental needs of children—as well as improved treatment completion rates in its service area through local partnerships. 

Elementary schools with high free or reduced-rate lunch program participants are targeted to reach children who are unlikely to have the ability to receive treatment in a  traditional setting. Each child receives hands-on brushing and flossing demonstrations, as well as education about the process and prevention of dental caries, helping to assure a positive long-term impact on dental health and overall health. Children receive services such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, stainless steel crowns, dental sealants and fluoride treatments. 

Ashland Elementary Family Resource Coordinator Barbara Demus shared about the program, “I truly appreciate the services that all of you provide to our students and the great care that you all display in working with our students. You provide a very valuable service not only to our students but also their families and our school.”

“We have noticed this new generation is growing up with little to no dental anxiety,” says Nikki Stone, D.M.D., Director of the Eastern Kentucky Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. “They enjoy their dental visits to the mobile unit at their schools and often ask if they can have another turn.”

John Mink, D.D.S., a UKCD founding faculty member, began raising funds for UKCD’s first mobile unit after providing care on a mobile unit for six weeks in villages throughout Greece and Israel alongside dental students from several schools. The program has since stretched across the Commonwealth to reach over 40 counties throughout Eastern, Central and Western Kentucky. Additional mobile units were added with the help of faculty members, including Harold Lester, D.M.D., responsible for the management and training of UK dental students on the mobile units for over 15 years, and M. Raynor Mullins, D.M.D., M.P.H.

Published on October 14, 2015.

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