DECATUR, Ala. — Calhoun Community College and ADPH are ready to provide free dental care to kids under 17 and pregnant people. Students enrolled in Calhoun’s senior-level courses of the dental hygiene program and ADPH employees will perform teeth cleanings as part of their curriculum’s clinical requirements.
It's part of how students learn hands on how to provide patients with dental care. Scott Parvin, a clinical dentist and an instructor of the program, explains the partnership. "We have a partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health and they subsidize treatment for any patients who are 17 or below and any pregnant patients. So those patients are seen here free of charge, we mostly do preventive services, so we'll do teeth cleaning, we'll treat periodontal disease, we do dental radiographs, we'll do an exam.."
Parvin says this new option is important because, "We're looking at a group of patients who over time have traditionally been underserved and a lot of the time the children don't start dental treatment at the recommended age." This free cleaning will allow children to get early prevention against disease and will locate any changes happening hormonally to an expecting parent's teeth.
The program also provides dental care to anyone at a reduced cost and since COVID, they've had a backlog of patients. "We see the detrimental effects of that neglect that they've been through these last couple of years especially if they've had active disease during that time that went untreated, "says Parvin.
The treatments are all done by students who are seniors in the program…but Parvin says, "They're very competent, they're very motivated, they care about what they're doing. I feel very confident in their ability to provide quality care but there's never a single moment that they're not high supervised."
“Recent dental hygiene rankings for the United States have placed Alabama in the lower percentile,” commented Bret McGill, Calhoun Dean of Health Sciences. “This means teaching children good dental habits must begin as early as possible, and that is the primary goal of our partnership with ADPH,” says McGill.