UNC School of Dentistry Dental Hygiene students are gaining experience in caring for an underserved population of Hispanic immigrants from the Siler City, N.C. area this semester. Through a $5,000 grant from the Carolina Center for Public Service, hygiene students and service dentist Suellen McCauley, DDS ’90 are providing dental screenings and follow-up preventive treatment for 28 immigrants. The pilot program began in mid August and will continue on Fridays until November of this year. Dental Hygiene faculty members are supervising the students.
Buses and vans, sponsored by the local churches, bring the patients from Siler City to the School of Dentistry. During visits, patients receive screenings, cleaning, oral hygiene instructions and instructions written in Spanish to incorporate prevention into their daily routine. Patients who need restorative treatment are given options for follow-up treatment. Since English is a second language for the group, interpreters, including two dental assisting students, make certain that the patients fully understand their treatment and follow-up implications.
“The project provides students and staff a rich learning environment for developing cultural competency in caring for Hispanic cultures, in identifying their dental needs and in providing preventive dental care,” said Vickie Overman, M.Ed ’83, associate clinical professor in the department of dental ecology.