Open Door Mobile Dental Van adds Tarrytown Schools to Travels

To support the needs of young children getting early dental care, the Open Door Family Medical Center goes to where the children are – via a mobile dental van that travels weekly to visit students at the Park and Brookside schools in Ossining.  The unit will shortly be adding the Morse and Paulding schools in Tarrytown to its itinerary.

As many as 20 four and five-year-olds at the Park School, for example, can be seen by an Open Door dentist during the two days a week the mobile dental van spends in Ossining (with a third day to be spent in Tarrytown).  The van, which has two exam chairs, offers an inviting setting – walls decorated in a child-friendly manner, a television set on the ceiling for easy viewing while sitting in a reclining chair – and allows the dental team to dispense preventive measures including exams with x-rays, cleanings, sealants, and fluoride applications.  They even treat cavities when needed.  Written and verbal consent from parents is obtained prior to all care.

“Pretty much anything that is done in the office can be done for children in the van,” said Dr. Geisler, Open Door’s Ossining dental site director, who travels with the van.   “It’s really convenient for families.  With the mobile dental van, the kids miss 20 minutes of school instead of half a day, and their parents don’t miss work.  The kids also tend to be better patients when they are with friends, rather than their parents.”

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that early dental care is critical.  Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 40 percent of children have decay by the time they reach kindergarten. Early checkups help prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, trouble concentrating and other medical issues. Youngsters with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence.

The Open Door mobile dental van offers its services to students with no out-of-pocket costs.  “We see any child that attends the school,” said Dr. Geisler.  “In keeping with the Open Door’s mission statement, no child is denied care for inability to pay.”

Open Door has been offering mobile dental services to students since 2017.  Since providing consistent access to care is Open Door’s top priority, said Dr. Geisler, a “residency” is set up at each participating school to establish continuity of care.  The hope is that in the future, should grant or private money become available, a second mobile dental van could be put in operation to meet the needs of children in additional locations.

Teachers and administrators recently welcomed the van at its pre-visit at Tarrytown’s Morse School, as all children went home with a dental goodie bag.  “We’re thrilled to make our schools a hub for community well-being by beginning to offer free dental services to all families,” said Dr. Audrey Brutus, Tarrytown Public School’s Supervisor of Emotional Learning and Community Engagement at the ceremony. “This game-changing initiative ensures equitable access to essential dental care, marking a pivotal moment for our district as we create a better tomorrow for our children and families.”

Added Dr. Geisler, “Responses to the mobile dental van have been extremely positive from the school faculty and parents.  We love having the teachers pop in to see our working environment and it helps with overall buy-in of the program.  Parents love the convenience and often comment that school-based health services should be a staple for all schools.  After all, these health initiatives are the future of health care.”

About Open Door Family Medical Center and Foundation

For over 50 years, Open Door has provided accessible, high-quality health care and wellness services, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Open Door offers family medicine, dental services, behavioral health care, women’s health including obstetrics, vision services, insurance enrollment assistance, and much more. Open Door operates health centers in Ossining, Brewster, Mamaroneck, Mount Kisco, Sleepy Hollow, and Port Chester, and a dental site in Saugerties. Additionally, Open Door runs a mobile dental van and nine School-Based Health Centers in the Ossining, Port Chester, and Webutuck school districts.

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