Kids are at home aboard Ohio State’s dental clinic on wheels.
The College of Dentistry’s Health Outreach Mobile Experience (HOME) Coach program serves nearly 2,500 children each year, mostly in Columbus City Schools. Fourth-year dental students and dental assistants provide care at 25 to 30 schools each year under the supervision of faculty and postdoctoral fellows.
Clinical Prof. Canise Bean, a dentist and the College of Dentistry’s community outreach and education director says for the last 10 years, "access to oral health has been the No. 1 unmet health care need for Ohio’s children."
“The HOME Coach program helps bridge this gap by providing oral health care and education to underserved children.”
Now in its 11th year, the program has brand-new digs: a $534,000 clinic on wheels sporting the latest equipment and technology. Delta Dental Foundation, a College of Dentistry supporter since 2007, funded the 45-foot coach, and Ohio-based Farber Specialty Vehicles designed and built it.
The coach features slide-out rooms for additional space, three dental chairs with digital X-ray machines and advanced diagnostic capabilities. Children await their appointments at an interactive education station with four electronic tablets, and screens above each dental chair stream movies to entertain and calm them during exams.
“It was great," says patient Alex, 11. "They really helped me, and they’re really kind. I would [tell other kids] it was amazing because not every dentist has this kind of equipment and a TV that you can watch.”
The patients aren't the only ones benefitting, says pediatric dentistry fellow Sara Toema.
“It’s a very good learning opportunity for the [dental] students," Toema says. "We can do everything from A to Z as far as pediatric dentistry — fillings, stainless steel crowns, root canal treatment for kids."
"Some parents aren’t aware of how important oral care is to their kids, to their development and growth. And a lot of people can’t afford to take off work to take their kids to the dentist. So we come to them."