To provide essential dental treatment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom face immense barriers to oral health care, the School of Dental Medicine has partnered with Arc of Genesee Orleans to provide care. to patients with disabilities in western New York throughout the summer. .
Provided as part of the UB S-Miles To Go dental program, the university has installed a mobile dental unit at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center in Batavia, where UB staff, faculty and students will provide dental care. comprehensive oral health, including cleanings, fillings and extractions, to the staff and patients of the Arc of Genesee Orleans, as well as to the disabled community in western New York State.
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 State for over 20 years, providing more than 45,000 patient visits. Treatments that cannot be provided on the mobile dental unit will be provided at the UB Dental Clinic at Squire Hall on the 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 the unmet health care needs of New York City communities.
The program operates 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., three days a week, at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center, 38 Woodrow Road, 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 center of activity for people with special needs, the School of Dentistry is helping to remove a major barrier to care faced by so many within the disability community.” said Stephen N. Abel, senior director of community and professional initiatives at the dental school.
“Good oral health is the gateway to good overall health, and one of the strategic goals of our foundation is to help improve access to dental care and outcomes in underserved communities of New York State, ”said Bishop Gregory Mustaciuolo, Executive Director of Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. “This summer’s S-Miles To Go program will provide an excellent opportunity for an affordable and accessible dental experience for the disabled community of Western New York State. “
Patients with disabilities face many barriers to oral health care, including a lack of adequate coverage and reimbursement from Medicaid and other insurance, and a shortage of dentists trained to meet their needs, says Abel. Inadequate compensation for provider time leads some dentists to refuse to treat disabled patients, 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 end up in operating rooms with aggressive treatment plans, ”says Paula Fischer, project coordinator for the rural dentistry program at the School of Dentistry. “Tooth decay is a preventable disease. We need to focus on prevention practices by training caregivers and patients. “
“It’s so hard to find dentists,” notes Barbara Hoffman, whose children were cared for in the mobile dental van. “If you call the local dentist and say my son has autism or Down syndrome, he’ll tell you you need to see a specialist. We used to have to go from Buffalo to the children’s hospital and it’s over an hour away. Once the Children’s clinic closed just after the start of the pandemic, 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 said.