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HealthPath News

School Dental Clinic Changes Lives

At six-years-old, Dylan* needed seven fillings and two extractions.

Delta Dental ClinicAt six-years-old, Dylan* needed seven fillings and two extractions. 

Her parents had taken her to more than one dental clinic but her fear and anxiety prevented her from being treated. The providers they took her to did not usually work with children. 

Dylan’s parents grew worried and discouraged. Then they heard that Dylan’s school was opening the Delta Dental Clinic at Oyler Elementary School in Cincinnati and decided to give it a try. After all, her parents thought, a dental clinic at a school may be better able to understand and handle the anxiety children face. 

In one session, Dylan went from being afraid to having her teeth brushed to having all her fillings and extractions completed. 

Magic? Maybe. 

Tiffaney Hamm, program manager at Oyler’s dental clinic, credits the genuine and sincere dental staff. She said her “awesome and compassionate dental staff,” knows how to work with children. Many of the children visiting Oyler’s clinic have never been to the dentist. The clinic, the first of its kind in the State of Ohio, was opened to fill a huge demand for dental care at Oyler. 

Dental care is the number one unmet children’s health need in Ohio. It is estimated that 4,300 Cincinnati Public School (CPS) children attend school each day with immediate dental treatment needs. 

The Oyler clinic is already operating at capacity, serving the school and 12 others in the surrounding area. Fifteen children a day are served five days a week at the clinic. 

Growing Well is the facilitator of the Children’s Oral Health Network that is the coalition of partners that created and continue to partner at the Delta Dental Center. 

“The key thing with school clinics is they reduce the no show rate,” said Paul Rudolph, Executive Director of Growing Well. 

“Although we’re taking kids out of class, because the clinic is at school, they are back in class faster. And we’re not taking parents out of work. If a parent has to take a kid to the dentist, they may also take siblings, creating absenteeism.” Paul said clinics hours may increase to include evening and summer hours. 

“We’re not just giving out toothbrushes and toothpaste, we are increasing the understanding of the importance of taking care of oral health,” he added. 

CPS students at schools without clinics are often provided transportation to existing clinics, visits from a mobile clinic or portable dental chairs. 

Tiffaney said she’s witnessed a big change in the four months the clinic has been at the school. Both the students and parents are warming up to the clinic. 

“Once they realize their friends come back to class, visiting the clinic is not as scary as it looks,” she said. “Once the community sees we are here to help and not judge but to offer quality dental care, we’ll prove ourselves.” 

*Name has been changed. 

 February 2014

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