MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University School of Dentistry has created new partnerships and expanded existing ones with several clinics around the state, giving students the opportunity to practice in a community clinic and to learn from practicing dentists.
Last month, third and fourth-year dental students began rotations at the Beloit Area Community Health Center under the supervision of preceptors.
In Appleton at the Tri-County Community Dental Clinic, MUSoD students have started seeing children from area school districts one extra day per week as part of their Focus on the Children Program. Two operatories are used full-time by four Marquette students, allowing the clinic to expand its capacity and to see more children.
And in Milwaukee, at the MUSoD Community Dental Clinic-North, Marquette students have enabled the clinic to open their chairs on Thursdays to see an additional 18 children per week.
“Marquette’s clinical rotations and rural fellowship program help our students understand the oral health care needs of underserved areas throughout Wisconsin. While our dental students benefit from the hands-on education experience, they also, under the supervision of practicing dentists, provide an invaluable service to our patients,” said Dean William Lobb.
For students, learning in a community health clinic gives them the chance to work with patients who have more acute and chronic dental needs than if they were seeing patients more in a private practice setting. For the children who are patients at the clinic, many of them are getting dental care for the first time, most already with several cavities.
“We are ecstatic to have our students and families benefit from our wonderful partnership with Tri-County Community Dental Clinic and Marquette’s dental school,” said Brenna Garrison-Bruden, Principal at Webster Stanley Elementary. “Lack of adequate dental care has a profound impact on our students. It has become evident that some of our kids have been in constant pain and nobody was aware of the situation. Through this partnership our students will receive the dental care that is desperately needed so they can focus on their school work and live a healthier, happier life.”
Webster Stanley is one of several Oshkosh area schools participating in Focus on the Children. Of the 67 schools and Head Start Centers in the tri-county region, 49 have signed up to send their children. In the Appleton area, approximately 2,200 children receive restorative treatment each year.
“At that stage, treating 2,200 kids a year, we’d run into major capacity issues without the MUSoD students,” said Robert Glass, director of the clinic. “There are 8,500 eligible kids in the Tri-County area, and we’re not stopping until we hit the wall. The goal of a program like this is to stop looking at growth. You want to first, slow down the growth and second, reverse it.”
In the month of January, the MUSoD students at the Milwaukee north side clinic handled 57 visits from area children. The clinic sees children as young as 3 years old on Thursdays, and averages about 18 kids per day.
“The kids can have a wide range of issues if they don’t receive care – pain, infection, poor nutrition, poor school performance, negative impacts on developing teeth, to name a few,” said Dr. Albert Abena, director of the north side clinic. “Thankfully the majority of the kids that we see just need preventive care. Unfortunately, there are also examples of severe need. Last week, we saw two young kids that had over a dozen teeth that were very badly decayed.”
Both Tri-County and the Milwaukee clinic will be hosting a Meet Your Dentist Day for children who will be patients at their clinics:
• Thursday, Feb. 24th Children from the Head Start Program will visit the Marquette University School of Dentistry Clinic-North.
• Friday, March 4th Kindergartners from the Webster Stanley and Franklin schools in Oshkosh will visit Tri-County Community.
Details about each event will be made available closer to the dates. Media are invited to attend.
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