By Karen Fox
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CALIF.
Proving that its futuristic mobile dental office is more than bells and whistles, Sullivan-Schein donated the Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today unit for use in an access program here from May 18 to 19, 2008
It gets better: Dr. Denise Habjan leans in to comfort an unhappy 5-year-old Valentin Ramirez for dental treatment in one of Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today’s two operatories. Dr. Habjan said Valentin “probably will need all of his teeth restored.”
Just steps from the playground of San Juan Elementary School—and a stone’s throw from the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano—a group of Orange County Dental Society volunteers performed comprehensive dental care in the TDOT exhibit for elementary school students who were prescreened for visits based on need. The California Dental Association coordinated the event.
In the end, the seven dentists, one dental assistant, two hygienists and two society staff members, who volunteered, donated care estimated at $4,425. There were 16 patient visits that included 10 posterior amalgam restorations and one pulpotomy.
“This is quite nice,” Santa Ana dentist Dr. Denise Habjan said of the TDOT exhibit. “For once we have room to move around. With the chairs and the latest equipment on hand, it makes it a lot easier to do dentistry.”
Dr. Ethan Fox of Escondido, Calif., drove 50 miles for the day’s event. The 2004 dental school graduate has performed charity services in facilities equipped for access programs in the past, “but nothing like this.”
“This is great because everything is right here. Usually you just have few supplies and are limited with what you can do. This is impressive,” said Dr. Fox.
“These are students who really need help,” added Dr. Ryan Vahdani of Santa Margarita. “This facility is good because it has the finest equipment we can use, and it’s nice to have two chairs. These are low-income families, and they rely on the goodwill of society. This unit can help us give care to a lot of kids.”
In partnership with the ADA, Sullivan-Schein introduced the interactive mobile dental office showcasing the future of dental technology last year. TDOT enables visitors to experience how technology can enhance productivity through digital tools, patient records and scheduling, case prevention, clinical outcomes, financial and cash-flow management, and patient diagnosis and education.
“This week we treated some kids who had very serious dental concerns, and everyone felt good about the work that was done. All the equipment was new, and the environment was spacious. The doctors were kind of wowed by it.”
The mobile exhibit had its first tour of duty as a dental office from April 15 to 16 when the Virginia Dental Association utilized its operatories for the Mission of Mercy outreach program in Springfield, Va.
“Since its inception, Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today was designed to not only help advance the dental profession, but also serve as a fully-functional, mobile dental office and resource for voluntary dental treatment initiatives,” said Tim Sullivan, president of Sullivan-Schein. “Our support of outreach programs is part of our ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility, which is why TDOT’s efforts to date have targeted communities where large segments of the population have lacked access to oral health care,” said Mr. Sullivan.
Donating use of TDOT is no small commitment on the company’s part. It takes some 20 hours and no fewer than three staff members to assemble the exhibit for full-service dentistry.
“We are honored to have partnered with the Virginia Dental Association and the California Dental Association in support of these important outreach efforts, and to have provided resources, including donated dental supplies, to support these projects,” said Mr. Sullivan. “It is through partnerships such as this, which mobilize the resources of the public, private, and professional sectors, that we are able to help improve community health outcomes and increase oral health awareness.”
The May 18–19 event marked the Orange County Dental Society’s sixth visit to San Juan Elementary.
“We never run out of kids here,” said Laura Petersen, OCDS executive director. “Ninety percent of the students are on federally funded school lunch programs. It’s a low-income patient population that is predominately Hispanic, and the school tends to have a lot of transition because the parents go where they find work. The nearest community health center has a three-month wait for appointments.”
Having access to the Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today exhibit was a singular experience, added Ms. Petersen, the OCDS’ executive director for 18 years who was called into duty as a dental assistant for the event. “We have had more than a few problems with equipment at access events in the past,” she said. “We showed up to see patients once only to find we had no equipment in the mobile van. Another time vandals had tampered with our electricity and we ended up losing power.”
Added Ms. Petersen: “This week we treated some kids who had very serious dental concerns, and everyone felt good about the work that was done. All the equipment was new, and the environment was spacious. The doctors were kind of wowed by it.”
The mobile exhibit is part of a three-year multifaceted campaign that focuses on digital technology and software for managing all aspects of a dental practice.