Dental and dental hygiene students provide back-to-school care at Haven for Hope

Dental and dental hygiene students provided free screenings for youngsters at Haven for Hope.

Nearly 120 children living at Haven for Hope received a dental screening and learned how to brush and floss their teeth Aug. 4 as part of a back-to-school event held on the Haven for Hope campus. The free dental care and education was provided by faculty members and students from the School of Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio.

About two minutes is all it took for the dental students to scan the children’s teeth and identify major problems, such as large cavities or abscesses, that needed urgent care. The students also identified developing cavities and a need for cleanings, or whether the child’s mouth was healthy.

If the children’s family did not have a dental home, those who needed urgent care were referred to the Ricardo Salinas Pediatric Clinic, where UT Health dental residents and faculty members offer comprehensive pediatric dental care on a sliding scale, depending on the family’s financial resources.

Nearby at Haven for Hope, dental hygiene students taught the children how to brush and floss their teeth using oversized toothbrushes and brightly colored stuffed animals. The kids also received a dental hygiene coloring book and crayon, along with a toothbrush, floss and toothpaste.

“We want to thank everyone involved in making Saturday’s dental screening event at Haven for Hope a success,” said Vidal Balderas, D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry at UT Health San Antonio. “Children’s oral health is paramount to their having a healthy body,” he said.

Juanita Lozano Pineda, D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor of comprehensive dentistry, said, “Our dental and dental hygiene students have been volunteering to provide these screenings and education to the children residing at Haven for Hope for four years now. I am always impressed at how the team works to make this a good experience for the children. I am also proud of how they give their time to volunteer and help our community, with a smile and always happy as they head back home.  The community benefits from their service, and the students benefit from the community.”

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