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March 16, 2009

ULM Mobile Dental Unit included in bill signed by President Obama

The College of Health Sciences at the University of Louisiana at Monroe benefitted from the Senate Omnibus Appropriations bill signed by President Obama on Wednesday, providing funds for a $476,000 mobile dental health unit in the bill.

The Mobile Dental Health Unit has the potential to reach hundreds of citizens who do not receive regular dental care due to barriers related to affordability and accessibility, said College of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Denny Ryman.

“By providing these services, particularly in the rural parishes of northeast Louisiana, the college and university aspire to improve the dental health of children and adults, and ultimately the work force in the Louisiana Delta,” he said.

Three full-service dental operatories will be in the unit, which will be staffed by part time dentists, dental hygiene students and dental hygiene faculty. The following services will be available: review of health histories, examination of the oral cavity for oral cancer or other disease, expose, process, and interpret x-rays, teeth cleaning, provide oral health care instruction, dietary counseling, and patient education. A dentist can recommend the application of sealants and administer anesthesia when present for limited surgical procedures.

Louisiana’s oral health, specifically in children, is in a “state of crisis,” according to a study by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The report indicates that there is unequal distribution of dentists in the state, especially in rural areas.

Ryman said that most medical professionals believe oral health is essential for good overall health and going directly to areas where services are most needed is the only way many segments of the population will get the care and treatment they need.

The mobile dental unit would enhance the clinical experiences of ULM’s dental hygiene students by presenting opportunities to practice on a wide array of patients with moderate to severe oral pathology.

ULM President James Cofer said that he and the rest of the ULM family are indebted to Congressman Rodney Alexander and Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter for their hard work on behalf of the university.

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