November 6, 2000
Volume XXXIII, No. 37

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Mobile dentistry benefits the underserved


Dental

The Dental School makes use of two mobile dental clinics to provide patient care and enhance educational opportunities for students, fellows and residents. The clinics, outfitted with portable dental equipment, provide preventive, primary and emergency dental care services for the underserved, dental screenings and injury prevention services, nursing home visits, school-based prevention programs and clinical research opportunities.

The Dental School’s affiliation agreement with the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) enables senior dental students to travel on a weekly basis to provide primary dental care to migrant children under the supervision of Dental School faculty. The clinics travel frequently throughout the South Texas/Border Region, including to Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Laredo.

The clinics served about 2,000 people during the 1999-2000 academic year, including San Antonio schoolchildren, underserved South Texas residents, mentally compromised patients and young athletes seeking injury prevention.

SAISD schools served by the mobile van rotation in 1999-2000 included Lanier and Fox Tech high schools; Rhodes, Irving and Tafolla middle schools; and De Zavala, Crockett, Carvajal, Bowden and Nelson elementary schools. More than 430 students from the 10 schools were treated during 37 visits.

Fifty-eight senior dental students went on the SAISD visits. "Our students travel on a weekly basis to provide primary dental care to migrant children under the supervision of Dental School faculty," said Dr. M. Elaine Neenan, associate dean for external affairs in the Office of the Dental Dean. "This is under our affiliation agreement with the SAISD."

The Dental School has a second affiliation agreement, with the Christian Medical and Dental Society, in which dental students at all levels travel on designated weekends to dental care shortage areas in South Texas. "They provide primary dental care to underserved South Texas residents, many of whom are from colonias, under the supervision of Dental School faculty and private practitioners who are adjunct faculty," Dr. Neenan said. "The mobile dental clinic is stationed at a local orphanage, center or church. Teams of medical and dental providers are responsible for the coordination of the care delivered in the program."

During the 1999-2000 academic year, 483 patients were treated as part of the training program on these trips.