Thousands of local children will now be able to see a dentist without going to the dentist.
DentaMed Healthcare, funded by a $500,000 grant from UnitedHealth, is about to roll out a mobile dentist office. The object is to deliver dental services in undeserved communities, where bringing kids to an office may be a barrier to regular care.
“You can see we have a state-of-the-art clinic right here,” Christopher Okunseri of DentaMed said as he offered tours inside the truck. It features three dentist chairs fully equipped just like the office. Young patients can get a full range of basic care. “They get extractions. They get fillings. They get cleanings. They get fluoride varnish. They get comprehensive care.”
“So, this DentaMed clinic is part of our bigger commitment called empowering health,” said Ellen Sexton, CEO of United Healthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin. “It's really about increasing access to care, especially to the underserved communities.”
Sexton said financial concerns can be a barrier to care, particularly for Medicaid patients, though sometimes the issue is simply parents or caregivers unable to bring kids to the dentist office. “What's great about this is it can also do restorative treatment as well as preventative,” she said. “It's a real time saver for families, and for some kids that haven't been able to get into the dentist, really increasing access to something they wouldn't normally have.”
The mobile dentist office will make a few stops this summer and then will fully roll out in the fall. When it does, the last barrier to care will be getting kids to sit down in the chair. “I can tell you that the kids, most times, are very excited to climb into the van,” Okunseri said. “They want to get into the van. They are curious. And they get their work done, and they are so happy.”
For more information on how to get services from DentaMed, or to inquire about bringing the mobile dentist office to your neighborhood school,