For the past five years, Northumberland dentist Dr. Ralph Cianflone has been going into Shikellamy schools to perform annual dental checkups for Kindergarten, third- and seventh-grade students who don’t have a dentist or haven’t had proof of an annual checkup. He brings brushes along to hand out to each of the 50-75 children in each school that he examines.
If he notices cavities, a note is sent home to the parent so they know the child needs to be treated.
But sometimes such treatment is not financially feasible, and COVID has only made it that much more difficult to see a dentist in a timely manner.
Mobile dental service units have been helpful. Cianflone said these units will come to schools and perform limited work such as administering sealants to help prevent cavities that grow in the grooves, pits and fissures of each tooth – “where we get up to 85 percent of cavities,” Cianflone explained.
The sealant, he said, which resembles 2% milk, is applied to the teeth and then hardened. It also releases fluoride, “so it’s like having a car that releases wax to protect itself.”
According to a recent release from Geisinger Medical Center, “Although largely preventable, cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States and are twice as likely in children from low-income families.”
Geisinger has implemented a mobile dental services unit to combat this growing problem. The release states, “The 38-foot-long bus is outfitted with two fully equipped dental operatories to provide a full spectrum of preventative and diagnostic services at no cost, such as dental exams, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants, as well as home care education and nutritional counseling.”
The goal is also to connect families to a more permanent dentist.
The bus rotates to different schools and locations in the region. In accordance with COVID-19 precautions, appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling 570-452-7430 or emailing MobileDentalUnit@geisinger.edu.
The mobile unit will be at the following locations over the next few months:
Week of Feb. 22 – Knapper parking lot in Danville
Week of March 1 – Reichart Road, Bloomsburg
Week of March 8 – Geisinger Hazleton
Week of March 15 – Geisinger Kistler
Week of March 29 – Geisinger Pottsville
Week of April 5 – Geisinger Mount Pocono
April 12 to May 7 – Danville School District