U.T. Health Science Center dental residents, dental hygiene students to provide free exams to Head Start preschoolers

What: Pediatric dental residents and dental hygiene students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will provide free dental checkups and services to approximately 300 preschool children enrolled at the Jose Cardenas Head Start Center as part of Texas Head Start’s statewide oral health event, Save Our Smiles (S.O.S.). In addition to oral exams, preschoolers will receive free fluoride treatments and oral health educational materials to take home.

When: The exams will be given from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Sept. 21. There will be opportunities to interview and photograph Health Science Center faculty members, pediatric dental residents and dental hygiene students at work.

Where: Jose Cardenas Head Start Center, 3300 Ruiz Road.

Who: 300 children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in the Head Start program, as well as Head Start officials, will be available.

Dr. Adriana Segura, interim chair of the Department of Community Dentistry, five dental hygiene faculty members, 10 senior dental hygiene students and two pediatric dental residents will provide the free oral exams as part of the first Texas Head Start Save Our Smiles (S.O.S.) event.

A number of private practice dentists and dental hygienists will also participate, as well as dentists and dental hygienists from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District who will provide follow-up care later to children who need additional services.

Why: The event will help identify and address the oral health needs of preschoolers in the Head Start program. For Health Science Center senior dental hygiene students and pediatric dental residents, the event also will provide an opportunity for education and community service.

Details: San Antonio is one of four cities participating in this statewide effort being coordinated by the Head Start Collaboration Office to provide free dental services to 1,000 preschoolers enrolled in Head Start programs across the state. Other cities participating are Austin, Corpus Christi and Dallas.

Partners: This oral health project is a joint effort that includes the Head Start State Collaborative Office, Region VI Head Start Office, T/TA HS Network, Department of State Health Services Oral Health Division, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Texas Dental Association, Texas Dental Hygiene Association and the U.T. Health Science Center, as well as private practice dentists and dental hygienists.

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $536 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $14.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 22,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields.

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