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New UDM Mobile Dental Coach Debuts in Detroit, Will Deliver Dental Care to Schools across Wayne County

September 21, 2015

Dental care is hitting the road in Wayne County in a customized motor coach funded by the Delta Dental Foundation that will treat thousands of children at schools across the county as part of a University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) School of Dentistry’s program that connects dental students with school children.

Dental BusUDM, Delta Dental and Detroit school officials today unveiled the new mobile dental coach at Detroit’s Noble Elementary-Middle School, the first school to be visited by the program. More than 50 students are expected to be examined and receive preventive care or treatment during the two weeks that the coach is at Noble.

The mobile coach and four portable dental chairs were funded by two Delta Dental Foundation grants to UDM totaling $584,907. The coach was built by Farber Specialty Vehicles in Ohio and contains four treatment chairs, portable X-ray units, a sterilization unit and a digital imaging system.

Under UDM’s “School-Based Dental Services Program,” dental students and faculty are traveling to schools across Wayne County providing comprehensive diagnostic, preventive and restorative treatment to thousands of children. Working with county health and school officials, UDM has developed the list of schools that will be visited under the new program.

“We’re thrilled to be able to hit the road in our new dental coach so we can serve children throughout Wayne County who otherwise likely would not receive dental care and therefore might be missing school because of oral health problems,” said Mert N. Aksu, DDS, JD, MHSA, Dean, University of Detroit Mercy. "Besides helping the children, the mobile unit is providing a unique experience for University of Detroit Mercy health professionals and improving their confidence and competence. We are extremely appreciative of Delta Dental Foundation’s extremely generous gift.”

As part of its Brighter Futures initiative, one of the Delta Dental Foundation’s top priorities is to expand access to regular dental care to all Michigan children. Delta Dental provided Noble teachers with tote bags containing DVDs, books, toothbrushes, lesson plans, brushing and reading charts for students that the teachers can use to teach students about the importance of oral health and how to care for their teeth.

“When children nationwide miss 51 million hours of school a year due to oral health problems and three of every five children are affected by tooth decay, oral health education and the dental care provided by UDM are critical to helping children learn,” said Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director. “At the Delta Dental Foundation, we are committed to doing our part to ensure that every child shows up for school every day healthy, pain-free and ready to learn.”

Dental Bus workingDelta Dental has worked successfully with Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Legislature to establish the state’s Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) program in all 83 Michigan counties. HKD is a Medicaid program administered by Delta Dental that improves access to dental care for the state’s underserved children. Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties were the final three Michigan counties lacking HKD, but children enrolled in Medicaid up to age 12 in those three counties will be included in HKD when the 2016 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The UDM School-Based Dental Services Program is expected to record 1,600 patient visits during the 2015-2016 academic year using the mobile coach and the four portable dental chairs. Services offered to children include dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, restorative care, extractions, mouth guards, referrals, oral health education and emergency services.

“With this mobile dental coach, we’re able to provide comprehensive oral health care that we couldn’t provide before,” said Aksu. “Offering children preventive dental services and teaching them about good oral health will really help these children succeed in school and grow into healthy adults.”

School officials attending today’s announcement thanked UDM and Delta Dental, and said the program will benefit students across Detroit and Wayne County.

“Now that the dental coach has begun offering care to Detroit and Wayne County students, we can’t thank University of Detroit Mercy and the Delta Dental Foundation enough for their support,” said Noble Elementary-Middle School Principal Latoyia Webb-Harris. “This truly helps the district to focus on each child and remove possible oral health issues from being barriers to their academic success.”

The Delta Dental Foundation launched its Brighter Futures initiative in 2012 to improve the oral health and well-being of children and adults through advocacy, education and philanthropy. In 2014, the foundation invested more than $3.56 million to support programs, organizations and events dedicated to advancing this goal. The foundation also committed $2.2 million in multi-year grants.

See video of the dedication and remarks by Pam Zarkowski, UDM provost & vice president for Academic Affairs.

Media Coverage

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