BUFFALO, NY – To provide crucial dental treatment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom face immense barriers to oral health care, the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has partnered with Arc of Genesee Orleans to provide care for disabled patients in Western New York all summer long.
Provided through the UB S-Miles To Go dental program, the university has stationed a mobile dental unit at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center in Batavia where UB staff, faculty and students will provide oral care. comprehensive dental care including cleanings, fillings and extractions. , the staff and patients of Arc of Genesee Orleans, and the entire WNY disability community.
The S-Miles To Go dental van is a 42-foot-long, three-chair dental clinic equipped with digital x-ray equipment, sterilization center, wheelchair lift and more. The program has served communities in Western New York for more than 20 years, providing more than 45,000 patient visits. Treatments that cannot be provided on the mobile dental unit will be delivered to the UB Dental Clinic at Squire Hall on UB South Campus.
The services are supported by a $780,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, an organization that improves access to affordable, quality health care and addresses unmet health care needs in New York communities.
The program operates three days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center, 38 Woodrow Rd., Batavia. Treatment is provided by appointment only and the program will run until July 9. To schedule a visit, patients and caregivers should call 716-803-3699.
“By placing the mobile dental unit in a hub of activity for people with special needs, the School of Dentistry is helping to remove a major barrier to care experienced by so many within the disability community” , says Stephen N. Abel, DDS, senior director of community and professional initiatives at the UB School of Dental Medicine.
“Good oral health is the gateway to overall good health, and one of our foundation’s strategic goals is to help improve dental care access and outcomes in underserved communities across New York State,” said Monsignor Gregory Mustaciuolo, CEO of Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. “This summer’s S-Miles To Go program will provide an excellent opportunity for an affordable and accessible dentistry experience for the Western New York disabled community.”
Closing the gaps in dental care
Patients with disabilities face many barriers to oral health care, including a lack of adequate coverage and reimbursement by Medicaid and other insurance, and a shortage of trained dentists to meet their needs, Abel says. Inadequate compensation for providers’ time is leading some dentists to refuse to treat patients with disabilities, he says. Those who treat this population often have waiting lists of several months.
“Many patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be treated in a dental office; however, the Medicaid system and lack of training forces them to go to operating rooms with aggressive treatment plans,” says Paula Fischer, project coordinator for the rural dentistry program at the IDA School of Dentistry. UB. “Tooth decay is a preventable disease. Emphasis should be placed on preventive practices by training caregivers and patients.
“It’s so hard to find dentists,” says Barbara Hoffman, whose children were treated in the mobile dental van. “If you call the local dentist and say my son has autism or Down syndrome, he will tell you that you need to see a specialist. We used to have to go to Buffalo Children’s Hospital and that’s over an hour away. Once the Children’s clinic closed just after the pandemic started, we didn’t know where to go.
The UB S-Miles To Go program has trained dental students for years to provide care for patients with disabilities, with the goal of graduates continuing to treat and advocate for the disability community, Fischer says.