INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana--Between January and September 2008, more than half of the children in Indianapolis area schools seen by an Indiana University School of Dentistry mobile project had moderate or severe dental decay.
SEAL Indiana, a mobile dental sealant program operated by the university and funded in part by a grant from the Delta Dental Foundation, offers preventive services such as examinations, dental sealants and fluoride varnish treatments.
The program travels to schools within a 120-mile radius of Indianapolis to treat children from low-income families who are not receiving or do not have access to routine dental care. From January through September 2008, the program treated more than 1,100 students.
"The program is going well and support from the state and organizations like the Delta Dental Foundation are extremely helpful," said Karen Yoder, MSD, PhD, professor and director of the Division of Community Dentistry at Indiana University. "Even with our sliding payment scale, there are still many children we couldn't help if it weren't for additional funding support."
Parents of all the children seen through SEAL Indiana receive a written report about their child's oral health. In addition, a faculty dentist from Indiana University calls parents of children with severe dental decay to talk about the importance of follow-up care and information on how to apply for the state's Hoosier Healthwise program.
Having the chance to help kids fight dental decay is one of the reasons the Delta Dental Foundation decided to provide a grant of $75,000 to the program.
"The impact of dental disease on children is a great concern--pain, tooth loss, missed school days and difficulty eating are among its serious consequences," said Nancy E. Hostetler, senior vice president of the Delta Dental Foundation. "Our mission is to improve oral health. That's why we support programs like SEAL Indiana, which make a positive difference in the health and well-being of many young people in the state."
The SEAL Indiana program is staffed in part by fourth-year dental students, whom Yoder said are able to gain invaluable experience.
"They are learning about the complexities of providing dental care to kids whose families are struggling," Yoder said. "Hopefully, this will also instill in them a desire to continue helping out in the community."
For more information, visit Delta Dental Foundation.
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