Mobile dental unit begins another year at local schools

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2018 at 10:47 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Joseph Zaremba, a dentist with Oak Orchard Health, worked out of the mobile dental unit in Albion on Thursday.

ALBION – The mobile dental unit returned to Albion Central School this week and about 200 children are expected to get teeth cleanings and dental exams for about three weeks, until the mobile unit heads to Medina.

Oak Orchard Health has been taking the unit to local school districts since 2005, serving several hundred children each year, cleaning teeth, doing sealants and extractions.

“People know it and they look forward to it,” said Denise Beardsley, coordinator of the mobile dental unit since it started.

Denise Beardsley has been coordinator of the mobile dental unit since it started in 2004.

The mobile unit also spends several months of the year in Albion behind the Oak Orchard office at 301 West Ave. There the mobile unit is open for adults and others in the community.

The unit debuted with Oak Orchard in 2004 and spent its first few moths in Warsaw. Oak Orchard has since opened dental offices in Warsaw and also in Hornell, so the mobile unit doesn’t need to travel to those communities.

Having Oak Orchard dental services in Warsaw and Hornell also has allowed Oak Orchard to keep the unit in Albion when it isn’t visiting school districts.

Oak Orchard has dentists, a hygienist and Beardsley working out of the unit. Beardsley sets up the appointments and walks to the classrooms, leading to children to the mobile unit, which is parked behind the elementary school.

Students get their dental care during the school day and parents don’t have to leave work or try to cram in an appointment after school.

Beardsley said the dental health in the kids has improved since the first few years of the service.

“It’s much better now than it used to be,” she said. “We instill brush and floss.”

About 30 to 40 percent of the kids that get dental exams at the mobile unit don’t have cavities these days. Some need fillings, extractions and restorations. If there is a more serious problem, such as a crown or root canal – which is rare for children – the child will be referred to have the work done at Oak Orchard’s dental offices in Brockport.

Joseph Zaremba, an Oak Orchard dentist, spent his workday on Thursday with the mobile unit. He said the facility is actually roomier than many dental offices.

The site has two dental chairs. It has its own hot water tank, and a sterilization unit to clean equipment and instruments.

Zaremba and Beardsley both said there aren’t very many mobile dental units in the state. They believe it is providing a critical service in Orleans County.

Beardsley has been with the mobile unit since day one. She said she has stayed because she enjoys working with the children.

“It’s stability for them,” she said.  “The kids now know it.”

Beardsley said the mobile dental unit plans to go to all five school districts, completing the visits near the end of May.

Oak Orchard accepts Child Health Plus, Medicaid, other insurance and also has a sliding fee for people without insurance.

For more information on the mobile dental unit, call 585-267-9236 or click here.

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