This week, one of our Mobile Dental Clinics made a routine stop at a Parklane Elementary school in Portland, Oregon. Throughout the year, this location serves hosts a clinic for its own students, as well as kids from neighboring elementary schools who arrive via bus. Most children who visit the clinic have such significant dental problems that follow-up appointments are required to address the critical needs at hand.
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry Dr. Paulson is an exclusive volunteer to this location working alongside the school’s Registered Nurse, Robin Lazuran, and with the assistance of four senior dental school students. In the days leading up to the clinic, Robin provides the initial assessment and places the children on a wait list based on priority. The first to be seen are those in significant dental pain, then obvious multiple cavities, and so forth. The majority of the children treated come from low income families who are not receiving assistance elsewhere or are undocumented citizens.
It’s not uncommon for children to show up at the Mobile Dental Clinic scared and reluctant to receive treatment. Within a matter of minutes, Dr. Paulson changes the mood with his big smile and playful banter. Like a magnet, the kids are drawn to him and his staff, and a once fearful event becomes a positive experience setting the stage for ongoing successful dental care. Pediatric patients of the Mobile Dental Clinic are not only treated for severe and often complicated dental problems, but are offered dental cleanings and education around oral hygiene in hopes of decreasing future problems through effective prevention.
“Here you go, you can even pick two,” said Dr. Paulson as he held out the prize box to one successful patient.
“Oh, and don’t forget this!” he said as he placed a small package of dental floss into the child’s tiny hand.
“Hey thanks!” the young patient replied with a grin.
Despite dramatic improvements in medical care for children in the area, the Mobile Dental Program continues to address an unmet need for dental care, successfully filling in gaps in service one smile at a time.
Story & Photo by: Krystal Foote
We are so thankful for our volunteers and donors - you are putting smiles on the faces of children in your own neighborhoods!