Geisinger has introduced mobile dental care and offers no-cost exams and preventive services to children in prekindergarten through grade 12 throughout its service area.
Cavities, which are largely preventable, are among the most common chronic dental afflictions among U.S. children and are twice as likely to occur in children from needy families. Also, many children have not had visits to a dentist due to coronavirus epidemic.
Geisinger’s 38-foot special bus is outfitted with two fully equipped dental service areas to provide a wide range of free preventive and diagnostic services, including dental exams, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants, as well as counseling regarding home care and nutrition.
“Some of the most common barriers to proper dental health are transportation, access to care and financial barriers,” said Kristen Schintz, DMD, medical director for dental services at Geisinger Health Plan. “We hope to alleviate those barriers by going into underserved areas and developing relationships with schools so that patients can be seen during their school day.”
The bus will rotate to different schools and locations in Geisinger’s service area with the goal of improving oral health in the community, educating children and parents and helping them to find a permanent dental treatment. Children will also receive sealed envelopes including concerns identified during exams, plus oral health home-care instructions, nutrition resources and complimentary toothbrushes.
“At this time, we are primarily focused on seeing school-aged children, as they are one of the most vulnerable groups,” Schintz said. “We are very hopeful that by educating children and parents about home care and nutrition, the information they receive will really stick with them and they will have the opportunity to develop healthier habits going forward.”
In accordance with COVID-19 precautions, patients are being contacted and scheduled for appointments on the bus. Appointments are separated to allow for appropriate distancing and additional cleaning between visits.
Information about the service and scheduling visits are available at 570-452-7430 and MobileDentalUnit@geisinger.edu