Van brings dental care to rural schools

Van brings dental care to rural schools »Play Video

YONCALLA, Ore. -- Yoncalla Elementary School students have been busy with exams, but there's no studying for the tests they got this week.

One by one, Yoncalla elementary students have filed into the Umpqua Valley Health Center's dental trailer.

Inside, they're treated to something that some students have never had before: a dental check-up. "Many kids have not seen a dentist when we see them, or they've only seen a dentist as a negative experience because they've been taken when the condition of their teeth were so bad that they had to have extraction, root canals, things like that," said program coordinator Cindy Norona.

A dental hygienist assess the students, and also gives fluoride varnishes and molar seals.

The program is grant funded, and serves kids without charge, regardless of income or insurance.

Christa Olsson, a dental hygienist with the program, told KPIC News why the dental van is so important. "The communities in this county have been particularly hard hit economically, the poor kids are without a lot of care or access to care," she said.

Program organizers hope the kids they serve will take it upon themselves to keep their mouths healthy.

And, even more important than being in the dental chair, Cindy and Christa say that oral hygiene starts at home. "They have the power to have a healthy smile, and it doesn't have to do with having a lot of money."