One word could be used to describe the environment in our Dental Department on Fridays, but ya gotta say that word 3 times to really get the point across.
“Energy, energy, energy,” laughs Dental Assistant RaeNesha White.
Every Friday, Health Care Center for the Homeless (HCCH) hosts something we aptly call “Medicaid Kids” at our facility Orange Blossom Family Health Center. Essentially anyone on Medicaid from birth to age 20 is welcome to have their dental needs tended to. This includes X-rays, any surgical care and a heavy emphasis on preventative care and education.
“If you can get children on the right track–dentally– they will become healthy adults thanks to maintenance and education,” says HCCH Dental Director Dr. John Allen. “In the long run, there will be a day when we have patients who are mature adults who have been receiving quality dental care from right here.”
The entire Dental Team steps up in order to make Fridays a positive and fun environment for the kids– calling cavities “cavity bugs” and referring to dental instruments as “Mr. Snorkel”.
“We have a responsibility to let the kids feel safe here,” White explains. “We’re preparing these kids for the future and we don’t want the dentist to be a scary place for them.”
Dr. Allen agrees, saying that he enjoys getting to provide the children with a good emotional start to their day by joking with them and giving them stickers.
Fridays are consistently busy for the Dental Team, especially with all the kids.
“It’s been a slow growth but a steady one,” Dr. Allen explains. “It’s important that with the construction we’ve gotten those four extra chairs. We really didn’t have enough space for the demand we had and this is going to give us more room. It’s so important that we have the capacity to see more patients.”
Both White and Dr. Allen stress the importance of teaching dental maintenance early in life to both the kids and their parents.
“If you have a good oral environment, the payoff is a lifetime free of oral and dental problems and pain,” Dr. Allen says. “So we give guidance to both the parents and the kids so they can get started early with healthy habits.”
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