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Dental bus to provide services to kids in Wayne County

Pieter Vanhaecke
flickr creative commons

Kids across Wayne County are expected to receive access to dental health services via a new bus.

The Delta Dental Foundation gave the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry  $584,907 for a bus, and four portable dental chairs.

Faculty and students from the University will travel on the bus and provide a variety of dental services at different schools. The chairs will be used to treat children at the schools.

 Teri Battaglieri is with the Delta Dental Foundation. 

"The coach is going to have four dental treatment areas," Battaglieri said. "What's unique about the program is that it will provide not only dental screening and sealant, but also restorative care."  

Children will able to receive a variety of services with the program including dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, restorative care, extractions, mouth guards, referrals, oral health education and emergency services.

According to a press release, Delta Dental has been working with government officials to establish the state’s Healthy Kids Dental program in all 83 Michigan counties.

HKD is a Medicaid program administered by Delta Dental that improves access to dental care for the state’s underserved children. Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties are the final three Michigan counties lacking HKD.

However, the FY 2016 state budget would expand HKD to children enrolled in Medicaid up to age 12 in those three counties. 

Doctor Mert Aksu is with the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. 

He says about 42 percent of students in Detroit Public Schools go to school with untreated dental diseases. 

"We know that untreated dental disease is still one of the top reasons for children's absenteeism as well as one of the top reasons for children's visits to emergency rooms," Aksu said. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of children ages 5 to 11 years will have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

Aksu also said the dentist students will serve as role models to the children. 

"We have so few dentists and dental students who come from under-privilege areas that we would hope that eventually we can an interest in the profession as well," Aksu said. 

The program is expected to start in last August and to treat 1,600 kids this fall.  The first school the bus will visit is Noble Elementary-Middle School in Detroit.  

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