Dental care for those who need it most
Main Page Content
Clean teeth mean happy and healthy children—and possibly careers in dentistry.
That’s the thrust behind a University of Iowa initiative in northeastern Iowa's Allamakee county, where third-year students from the UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics travel four times a year to check schoolchildren’s teeth, offer tips on oral care, and show what it means to be a community dentist.
The program, called Project SEALED, started nearly two years ago as a partnership between the UI and school systems in Postville and Waukon. To date, about 100 dental students have provided care for up to 700 elementary and middle school children in the communities.
Dan Caplan, professor and head of preventive and community dentistry, and organizer of Project SEALED, says the outreach is about much more than helping an underserved population in one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the state. For one, UI dental students get hands-on experience working in the field as they think about their careers.
Dental student Kaitlin Hoogeveen, originally from Sioux Center, says the experience reinforces her desire to open a practice in rural, northwest Iowa. “We really love the small town, and the support from the community,” she says.
The schoolchildren get to learn what it’s like to be a dentist, too. To underscore that message, some of them visited Iowa City this month to tour the College of Dentistry and learn more about the profession.