The Ugly Tooth: Barriers in Brown County Dental Care


By Léa Kopke

GREEN BAY – In the 2019-2020 school year, Oral Health Partnership (OHP) reached a record high and served nearly 4,000 children in Brown County before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close its programs last March.

The organization provides free dental services to children in Brown County who are on Medicaid, BadgerCare, or who are uninsured.

Julie Paavola, director of development and community engagement, said that with the help of a new equipment van and a fourth clinic site, OHP aims to serve 2,500 students next year.

The new van is equipped with a loading dock to facilitate the transport of heavy equipment.

OHP hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the van and its building at 1245 Main Street, complete with ice cream and tours, on June 22.

Katy Compton, marketing coordinator, said clinics reopened at reduced capacity last summer and were recently booked.

“There is a need, and people see that need, and luckily we’re here to help make it happen,” Compton said. “But another reason we’re full is that we haven’t been able to go back to schools.”

Paavola said OHP normally provides school services in eight of Brown County’s nine school districts, including exams, x-rays, assessments from a dentist, cleanings and sealants from a dental hygienist and operative work. light as fillings.

Students needing in-depth work are referred to OHP clinics.

Paavola said about six schools have semi-permanent or permanent locations with some equipment, but in most schools OHP sets up mobile equipment the day before a clinic.

“We just set up a dental clinic wherever there is room,” she said. “So sometimes it’s cafeterias or libraries, music rooms, extra offices, director’s offices. I think we were even in a stairwell once, so I think it kind of depends on where schools can fit us.

Amy Fish, Green Bay Schools Community Partnership and Grants Coordinator, said OHP provides services to 20 schools in Green Bay, several of which have permanent or semi-permanent clinic locations.

“They serve all the students who have paperwork on their file and come back six months later and follow up,” Fish said. “We try to cultivate this culture of six months for students, every six months for dental treatment. “

She said students with dental pain were more likely to have difficulty with their academics, a fact that became clearer to her after speaking with teachers in the district.

“I had a teacher and I asked her categorically, ‘If you were on a test and you got a call to tell you that a student is open for a date, would you send it?’ Fish said. “And she said, ‘Yeah, every time. If they have a toothache, they will not do well on this test.

Paavola said that by providing a place for students to receive treatment during the school day, the barriers are removed.

“I think people don’t realize, especially (for) families who live in poverty, how many obstacles there are to something as routine as going to the dentist,” he said. she declared. We could take that for granted.

Fish said the clinics eliminate transportation and funding issues.

“If families use public transport, the student is often absent for the rest of the day,” she said. “But now the parent doesn’t have to worry about transportation or getting out of work to see the dentist, and students can get in and out in just 20 minutes. “


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