The dental hygiene unit's current project, "Mission Possible, Expanding Dental Health in our Local Communities," seeks to expand the area of dental services to other northeast Louisiana parishes.
"Our project aligns with the Living Well Foundation's mission of providing healthcare to traditionally underserved groups," said Kimberly Whorton, ULM assistant professor of dental hygiene. "This grant will help to assure the continued existence of accessible, affordable dental care."
Since its inception in 2010, the dental hygiene unit has provided services to approximately 550 patients in Ouachita, Morehouse, Richland, and East Carroll parishes. The unit is currently placed in Richland Parish, serving Rayville junior and senior high school students.
"ULM's Mobile Dental Hygiene Unit continues to provide valuable dental care to the region's underserved population while expanding clinical practice opportunities for our dental hygiene students," said College of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Denny Ryman.
Ryman said the unit provides accessibility directly to those areas where services are most needed and could be the only way many segments of the population will get the care and treatment they need.
In addition to dental hygiene students, the unit is staffed by dental hygiene faculty, including dentists, to ensure every patient who enters is receiving top-notch care, according to Ryman.
The state-of-the-art dental hygiene unit is equipped with all the technology one would expect from any regular clinic. Patients receive most of the same services they would receive from a stand-alone clinic, including a review of their health histories, examination of the oral cavity, teeth cleaning, oral health care instruction, dietary counseling, and patient education.