BUFFALO, NY – To provide essential dental treatment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom face immense barriers to oral health care, the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has partnered with Arc of Genesee Orleans to provide care for disabled patients in western New York City all summer.
Provided as part of the UB S-Miles To Go dental program, the university has installed a mobile dental unit at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center in Batavia where UB staff, faculty and students will provide health care complete oral care, including cleanings, fillings and extractions. , the staff and patients of the Arc of Genesee Orleans, as well as the wider WNY disability community.
The S-Miles To Go dental van is a 42 foot long, three chair dental clinic equipped with digital x-ray equipment, sterilization center, wheelchair lift and more. The program has served communities in western New York State for over 20 years, providing more than 45,000 patient visits. Treatments that cannot be provided on the mobile dental unit will be provided at the UB Dental Clinic in Squire Hall on the UB South Campus.
The services are supported by a $ 780,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, an organization that improves access to affordable, quality health care and addresses the unmet health care needs of New York City communities.
The program operates three days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Arc of Genesee Orleans Community Center, 38 Woodrow Rd., Batavia. Treatment is provided by appointment only and the program will run until July 9. To schedule a visit, patients and caregivers should call 716-803-3699.
“By placing the mobile dental unit in a center of activity for people with special needs, the School of Dentistry is helping to remove a major barrier to care faced by so many within the disability community.” says Stephen N. Abel, DDS, senior director of community and professional initiatives at the UB School of Dental Medicine.
“Good oral health is the gateway to good overall health, and one of the strategic goals of our foundation is to help improve access to dental care and outcomes in underserved communities of New York State, ”said Bishop Gregory Mustaciuolo, Executive Director of Mother Cabrini Health. Foundation. “This summer’s S-Miles To Go program will provide an excellent opportunity for an affordable and accessible dental experience for the disabled community of Western New York State.
Filling the gap in dental care
Patients with disabilities face many barriers to oral health care, including a lack of adequate coverage and reimbursement from Medicaid and other insurance, and a shortage of dentists trained to meet their needs, says Abel. Inadequate compensation for provider time leads some dentists to refuse to treat disabled patients, he says. Those who treat this population often have waiting lists of several months.
“Many patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be treated in a dental office; however, the Medicaid system and lack of training forces them to end up in operating rooms with aggressive treatment plans, ”says Paula Fischer, project coordinator of the rural dentistry program at the dental school of the UB. “Tooth decay is a preventable disease. We need to focus on prevention practices by training caregivers and patients. “
“It’s so hard to find dentists,” says Barbara Hoffman, whose children were cared for in the mobile dental van. “If you call the local dentist and say my son has autism or Down syndrome, he will tell you you need to see a specialist. We used to have to go from Buffalo to the children’s hospital and it’s over an hour away. Once the Children’s clinic closed right after the pandemic started, we didn’t know where to go. “
The UB S-Miles To Go program has trained dental students for years to provide care to patients with disabilities, with the goal of graduates continuing to treat and advocate for the disability community, says Fischer.