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News | Health Education and Human SciencesSeptember 30, 2021

Dental Hygiene Clinic Sits Pretty in 2021 Thanks to Grants

Patients at the UAFS Dental Hygiene Clinic will be sitting pretty this year, thanks to two grants totaling $50,000 from Delta Dental of Arkansas.  

The grants will fund personal protective equipment and lead-free radiation aprons, and replace four dental chairs that cannot be repaired.

The Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation awarded $500,000 in grants with awards ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 through the foundation’s annual Community Grants Program. UAFS also received a grant from the foundation’s COVID-19 Responsive Funding for Charitable Dental Clinics.

Chrissy Chatham, executive director of Delta Dental Foundation, said the grants “support and nurture meaningful, transformational projects that promote improved oral health for individuals who need it the most.”

UAFS will use its grants for N-95 masks and washable isolation gowns, which have become significantly more expensive during the pandemic. Procuring additional PPE is critical to serving more patients, extending our budget, and avoiding asking students to purchase more supplies than are already in their instrument and supply kits. The current lead aprons are outdated and covered on one side with fabric that is difficult to disinfect. Replacing two chairs will prevent lost time because of the broken chairs.

The long-term plan is to gain additional funding to replace additional chairs, focusing on one pod at a time. Chairs currently in use were purchased 20 years ago.

The UAFS Dental Hygiene Clinic mainly serves the Arkansas River Valley into western Oklahoma. Many of those who use the clinic are retired with no dental insurance and no way to pay for routine dental care. Each individual treated in the clinic receives comprehensive dental hygiene care to improve and maintain oral health. Students work to educate patients about how oral health is connected to overall health. Students in the clinic screen for hypertension and oral cancer, offer smoking cessation resources, and counsel diabetic patients about the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease.

The Dental Hygiene Clinic has sponsored three Free Extraction Days, and the Dental Hygiene Program sponsored after-school “Smilz Clinics” to provide free dental hygiene services for children younger than 19. Seniors rotate through the Fort Smith Community Dental Clinic, and students participate in the Polk County Sealant Project in Mena.

Media Relations

The UAFS Office of Marketing and Communications fields all media inquiries for the university. Email Rachel.Putman@uafs.edu for more information.

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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