Wheaton partners with Access for dental care

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Partnership provides on-site care, information to students

The first week of school has wrapped up and in Wheaton, with the students getting a lesson in oral hygiene as they get back into the routine of school.

Lance Massey, Wheaton superintendent, said the school district and Access Family Care have entered into a partnership this year to offer more to students. The partnership was based on the interest in offering students with on-site staffing and a telemedicine platform that will help with students’ mental health issues.

As part of the partnership, Access Medical has added in an additional service for the district that includes spending a week on campus looking at the dental health of preschool through sixth-grade students.

Dana Bartkoski, Wheaton lead nurse, said there is a huge need for the dental education for the students.

“We are all so excited for this opportunity,” she said. “Wheaton is an under-served community, and having a dental bus on campus for a whole week is a new thing for all of us.”

Jennifer Walkinshaw, Access Family Dental dental technician, said the dental bus that arrives on campus offers a full dental service.

“We can do X-rays, cleaning, exams, fluoride treatments and sealant,” she said. “We do a lot of preventative treatment, but we can also offer limited restorative treatment.”

Walkinshaw said Access wasn’t sure how many students would be participating in the dental bus at Wheaton, but there ended up being a large turnout.

“We usually schedule a school for a whole week, each week of the school year,” she said. “We are pretty much booked for the academic year.”

Walkinshaw said the biggest benefit for the dental bus to be on site at the school is that students don’t have to miss class, parents don’t miss work and it is more convenient all around.

“We see each student that is signed up, regardless of if they are insured or not,” she said. “We have a grant that covers the children who are uninsured, and we bill insurances of the children who are insured.”

Walkinshaw said what Access loves most about working with school districts is the educational opportunities for the children.

“We run into children who just don’t understand the importance of proper oral hygiene,” she said. “Giving them the educational tools and a routine to start making changes makes a huge difference for them.”

Walkinshaw said the dental bus also gives a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss to each student seen.

“Aside from the convenience of being on site, we get to see children who don’t ever go to the dentist and may have an issue with their teeth,” she said. “Here, we can spot a possible infection, abscess or cavity and notify the parents in time to get them into the clinic.”

Walkinshaw said it is important to help make parents more aware of any possible oral health issues.

“When children are seen in the mobile unit, it establishes them as a patient at Access,” she said. “They can go into any of our clinics and not have to go through the initial exam again.”

Morgan Dumond, Cassville Access Clinic dentist, said sometimes, the first time students see a dentist is in the mobile unit.

“I agree that education about oral hygiene is an important part of what we do,” she said. “We get to help children develop a routine and explain to them why it is so important to brush their teeth.”

Dumond said the impact of that education and relationship with a dentist can last a lifetime.

“Children are usually nervous to go to the doctor or dentist,” she said. “Having a mobile unit on the campus helps to bridge that relationship.”

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