The world is full of cause and effect relationships. If there’s lightning, there’s thunder. If you sneeze, your neighbor says, “Bless you.” And if kids go to the dentist, they will receive a better education than the kids who don’t.
Yes, that’s right. Studies have shown that dental issues are the number one reason children miss school.
In an effort address this issue in their community, The Central Peaks Regional Council granted $38,000 between 2010 and 2011 to provide dental vans in Fremont County for two weeks each year.
The support for the dentist office on wheels grew out of another Council-supported effort. The Central Peaks Regional Council funded health fairs in partnership with St. Thomas More Hospital. Those fairs revealed that dental care was a top priority.
The vans have been an asset for kids and grownups, alike. Through a partnership with the University of Colorado, graduate students operate the vans and in return receive valuable experience and an appreciation for the importance of their work.
Last year, the van served 115 youth over two weeks with just four graduate students conducting 157 hours worth of appointments. That brought the two-year total to just under 130 youth served and over 300 hours of dental service provided.
During difficult economic times dental care is often one of the first expenditures to go and most people don’t think about the problems that can come from skipping a trip to the dentist—the type of issues that can easily lead to a child having to miss school. Improved access to dental care through the dental vans program is not only protecting children’s health, but their education as well.