A grant from the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation has allowed the Department of Dental Hygiene to purchase mobile equipment for use in community settings.
The new equipment will allow students to perform more services for children when they visit schools in Maine.
UNE Dental Hygiene students screened 254 children at three schools in the Lakes Region during the fall semester. Twenty-five percent of the children examined had visually untreated primary teeth.
Students returned to the Songo Locks School in Naples with the new equipment in the spring to apply sealant to the children.
“To apply sealant, we need suction and we have to have a sterile environment,” explained Danielle Peterson RDH, M.S., assistant clinical professor of dental hygiene.
The new mobile equipment allows UNE students and faculty to recreate a dental environment where children feel safe and comfortable.
It includes five units that supply water, air and suction. It also includes six dental chairs, two of which are specifically for pediatric patients.
“It's wonderful because the size makes the children feel more comfortable, rather than getting into a big, oversized chair,” Peterson remarked.
The new equipment will also allow for more collaboration between the Department of Dental Hygiene, the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) and the College of Dental Medicine (CDM).
“If we are working with the dental school, those students can use it for fillings and hand drill purposes,” Peterson said.
UNE is a national leader in Interprofessional Education (IPE), bringing professions together to improve collaboration and the quality of care.
Peterson expects more COM students will be working alongside Dental Hygiene students during upcoming community outreach visits with the equipment.
“Doctors are now applying fluoride varnish in their practices because a lot of children aren't seeing dentists regularly,” Peterson explained. “So, it was wonderful to give the COM students this experience.”
The volunteer services that UNE students are providing are greatly appreciated by the schools’ administrators, but especially by the children.
“When we came back for the sealant program, one boy was so excited,” Peterson said. “He had a huge smile on his face and he said ‘things don't hurt as bad anymore.’”