During the next few weeks, many residents will see a new RV rolling down the streets and highways of Monongalia County.
Wrapped in shades of blue and green, with a pinpointed map of the area and a large round Monongalia County Health Department logo, MCHD Smile Express will be difficult to miss.
But, as is usually the case, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
MCHD Smile Express will be carrying staff from our full-service Dentistry office, first going out to middle and high schools to see students.
An outreach project of the MCHD Dentistry program, Smile Express is intended to be a school-based safety net program for children who do not have a dental home. Director of MCHD Dentistry Dr. Dan Carrier noted, “We look forward to working with Monongalia County Schools to ensure all of our students are given an opportunity for oral health.”
Dr. Mike Wiener, a Preston County native, will serve as the Smile Express on-board dentist. Also making the rounds will be registered dental hygienist Tiffany Summerlin, who has coordinated the project; and dental assistant Velvet Urgo.
MCHD Smile Express has been in the works for more than two years now. Funded by a grant from Delta Dental, with additional support from Monongalia County Commission and the Rotary Club of Cheat Lake, MCHD Smile Express will be making area students’ smiles healthier while at the same time providing oral health education and linking them to additional services via area dentists when necessary.
Students who have not seen a dentist in at least 12 months will be prime candidates for MCHD Smile Express treatment. They will receive an exam by the dentist, an assessment by a public health dental hygienist, cleanings, X-rays, sealants and fluoride treatments, in addition to oral health education.
The RV that houses MCHD Smile Express is a converted 2005 Winnebago Voyage with three slide-outs. Now that it has arrived in Morgantown, workers have been busy, first by “wrapping” it to feature the logo and branding. Next up will be the installation of two operatories — aka dental chairs — where patients will be seen.
There also will be a sterilization center, a reception area and a bathroom.
We want to let Monongalia County residents who have children enrolled in the school system know what they can do to be prepared. If you don’t have a regular dentist that your child sees and if that child hasn’t seen a dentist in 12 months or more, you should consider allowing them to participate in MCHD Smile Express.
Forms will be going out to parents and guardians. If you want your child to be seen by the MCHD Smile Express team, please sign it and have your child return it to school. If your seventh or 12th grader needs a dental exam for their school registration, this will be an easy way to check that item off your to-do list.
Why is dental health so important? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), about 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
The team at MCHD Smile Express can not only identify existing problems, but also provide fluoride treatments to help prevent additional decay. Our dental team will emphasize habits, including to brush and floss twice a day and to avoid sugary drinks. It’s setting the groundwork early, which helps prevent a lot of dental headaches in the future.
After all, as Dr. Wiener noted, “It’s going to be a great way to make a change in a child’s life. Cavities in children can have horrible consequences. They affect every aspect of their lives. If we can make a change there, that’s fantastic.”
To make an appointment or for more information, call MCHD Dentistry at 304-598-5108 or go online to monchd.org/smile-express.html.