Fall sealant program sports new look

October 20th, 2023

Larry Watson Jr. unpacking the sealant program’s van in preparation of a pop-up clinic.

Texas A&M School of Dentistry’s sealant program kicked off the fall semester with a fresh, new look.

The program is now supported by a new van with an eye-catching wrap.

“We have two mobile dental units,” said Dr. Karl Veasey, director of the sealant program. “With the van, we’re able to take plenty of supplies and set up a mini-clinic right inside the elementary school.”

The sealant program provides oral health care for underserved youth in the greater Dallas area. They rotate through several school districts, Veasey explained, making visits twice a week and seeing between 15 and 25 kids per visit. The sealant program offers dental screenings, fluoride varnish, sealants and offers referrals to parents of the screened children with the most emergent needs. The program services Garland ISD, Richardson ISD, Irving ISD and Dallas ISD.

“This is a popular rotation,” Veasey said. “Students really like coming out and working with the elementary school kids. It’s fun, and it gives them an opportunity to strengthen their pediatric patient management skills.”

The new van will help promote the dental school and its sealant program, as it travels from school to school. It’s wrapped in Aggie maroon and features the phrase “A reason to smile.” Veasey added the van also has an electric lift that makes loading and unloading supplies easier.

D3 and D4 students supply treatments for the sealant program under the supervision of Public Health Sciences faculty. Sarah Schwartz, a fourth-year student, participated in the program last spring. She said it was impactful teaching kids about dental health care and how important it can be in someone’s life.

“While we were performing the exams, it became clear that some kids had not had routine dental care and may not have ever been taught how to care for their teeth,” she said. “It was very rewarding to be able to teach them a little about oral hygiene and about their teeth.”

Fourth-year dental student Carlos Andrade described the sealant program as “one of the best rotations you have as a D4 student.” He said the program will have a positive impact on the community, as more kids learn how to take care of their teeth and start to receive proper care.

“I think my favorite memory from being in the sealant program was working with a special needs child that had a previous medical history of seizures and had difficulty communicating,” Andrade said. “I remember Dr. Veasey saying to try my best to see if I could get anything accomplished during that day’s visit. Luckily, my loupes [a specialized pair of glasses] have a sensor that turns my light on and off, so my partner and I made it a game in which the child became our little assistant by helping me turn on and off my light as we looked around their mouth. It was a very sweet moment and something I will always cherish.”

Veasey explained the sealant program has a long history, starting almost 20 years ago. However, it had to go on a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program just returned last spring, and Veasey is excited for its future. He hopes to expand its reach into Dallas ISD schools and eventually operate more days a week.

“We see a great many first-time dental experiences with the children,” Veasey said. “A quarter of them have never been to a dentist before. That’s where we have the greatest potential for impact.”

— Caleb Vierkant

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