The University of South Dakota Dental Hygiene Department has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help establish a school-based preventative dental care program.
The grant, which runs for three years, provided the department with money to buy the necessary equipment to set up the program as well as to pay for the transportation to and from the schools.
Darlene Bogenpohl, who oversees the grant, says that she and four students travel to schools in southeast South Dakota, where they set up temporary dental stations. The 31 seniors in the dental hygiene program rotate among the schools. While the program mainly services elementary school students, the program is offered to junior highs and high schools as well.
During the 15-minute exam sessions, the dental hygiene students talk to the participating children about the basics of dental health. Each child who participates in the sessions receives a toothbrush and toothpaste and is taught about flossing if old enough.
Most of the services provided by the program are free of charge, although additional services do charge a small fee. Bogenpohl stated that the small fees for additional services are in place to ensure that the program keeps going after the grant expires.
For more on the University of South Dakota's new dental care program, read this article from The Volante: