CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - SIUC senior dental hygiene students came to Carbondale Middle School to provide free cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants to middle schoolers from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday.
Registered dental hygienist, Natalie Richardson says one day of the week, a dentist will come in and provide a dental exam.
It is all apart of SIUC's dental sealant program.
"The good news about this program is we bring all of our mobile equipment into the school and we send home permission forms several weeks in advance and those parents that may not have the opportunity to take off work or be able to get their child to the dentist or may not have access to care or may not have a dental home, then our program provides this for them for their child to be able to receive the exam, cleaning, fluoride treatments and sealants," Richardson said. "And then we also send home a referral form with the child that day to the parents. If they need to have follow up care then we also refer them to our community dental center, which is also on SIU's campus. "
The program started in 2000, serving about 10 to 15 students each school year.
"Looking at prior statistics, when we started in the year 2000, we only serviced maybe one to three schools and maybe saw 10 to 15 people the whole school year," Richardson said. "And now with our statistics from last year, we saw I believe around 1500 students around the fall and spring semesters."
Richardson says now, in the fall semester, the program goes to several schools in Murphysboro and also seeing students at De Soto grade school.
"And then in the spring semester, we see those anywhere between kindergarten to 8th grade in the Carbondale school district and we also go to schools in Carterville and also Elkville and Vergennes," she said.
Richardson says this provides a good hands-on experience for the senior dental hygienists.
"The senior dental hygiene students have a class their senior year where they have to do so many rotation hours between several facilities – the sealant program is one, our community dental center is another," Richardson said. They also go to the VA home in Marion. Some other local, federally qualified health centers. So they have a lot of rotation hours that they have to squeeze in their senior year. So this is a really good experience for them." After the hygiene students finish their work, Richardson takes a final look.
Richardson says they will see anywhere between 10 to 15 students Monday at the middle school.
"Depending on the students' needs, how many sealants a student may need or how long it has been since they've gotten their teeth clean, it usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour,"Richardson said.
The SIU dental sealant program will be at Carbondale Middle School again from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesday.