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MISSION — The Dentists Who Care Mobile Dental Unit paid a visit to O'Grady Elementary last week to take care of some very important students.
Six students received some much needed dental care and gifts.
Dr. Timothy W. Brann examined the students in a 37-foot mobile unit equipped with nearly everything a dentist's office has. The unit has two dental stations, digital panoramic radiology equipment and a computer network.
When the children first enter the mobile unit, they have a panoramic x-ray taken. The dentist then reviews the x-ray on a monitor before he begins a comprehensive oral exam. If any problems are found, the child might receive treatment then and there; it all depends on the amount of time the dentist has with each child.
Children could receive fillings, sealants or get a bad tooth removed. Others might also get a full teeth cleaning while visiting the mobile unit.
When leaving, children received an oral health care incentive packet that includes a toothbrush, sample toothpaste, floss and other dental-related information.
If the child needed more work, the dentist gave the child a voucher to visit the dental office. The vouchers allow the child to receive the treatment for free.
Last week, only a few children were seen, so Brann was able to take care of everyone, but also gave vouchers to some that needed follow-up appointments. Most children needed a filling or two and cleanings done. At least one child needed a tooth removed.
The children watched as each one had a turn in the dentist chair with Brann. Some had to be comforted while others were full of courage and didn't squirm when the dental tools were placed in their mouths.
One girl had to be talked to through the examination, but was easily calmed by the dental assistant.
By the end of the day, Brann gave three students vouchers to visit him at his office while another three were given vouchers and referrals to another dentist.
With the x-ray, examination and oral hygiene instruction, each child's cost was about $125 for their visit to the mobile dental unit. The total cost for the day was $750.
The dentists that work with Dentists Who Care donate all dental care. Other costs are paid for through donations the organization receives.
Brann was most concerned about getting the children their examinations and following up with needed dental care at a later date. He said he did not want to do any major treatment while other students were observing and would be much more comfortable doing the treatment at his office with no observers.
Cindy Schaefer, executive director of Dentists Who Care, said the group only sees children that have the greatest need. The children cannot be on Medicaid, have any other kind of insurance, and must be low income. Parents also had to fill out forms to qualify for treatment. The school had over 20 students eligible to receive the free care, but most students did not bring their forms back to the school in time for the visit.
Typically, the mobile unit is staffed with more than one dentist and can serve 30 or more children in one visit, performing examinations and treatment while scheduling or giving vouchers to students when necessary.
In 2011 when Brann visited O'Grady, he examined 14 students and donated nearly $3,000 worth of dental care. Some mobile unit visits have donated more than $5,000 in dental care.
For more information about Dentists Who Care, visit http://www.dentistswhocare.us.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.