The Importance of Dental Accessibility for Low Income Families

Steve Adubato talks with the VP of the Gateway Early Head Start and Head Start Program, Bonnie Eggenburg, about the importance of making dentists more accessible for low income families.

5/13/17 #3005






"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. It is our pleasure to welcome here on the set, Bonnie Eggenburg, who is Vice President, Gateway Early Head Start and Head Start Program. Good to see you Bonnie. Good morning. We were talking oral health, we were talking about the fact that there are a whole range of children, particularly in a certain part of the state of New Jersey, that are struggling when it comes to their oral health. Talk about them. We, at Head Start, identified that there were a lot of children not seeing the dentist. A lot of children suffering from caries, which is what causes cavities. Caries? Caries. It's the bacteria that causes the cavities in children's teeth. And we knew that we needed to do a better job of connecting with those children. A lot of parents, particularly the low income families that we serve, don't have transportation. And a lot of 'em in our area, particularly Cumberland, Cape May, and Atlantic County, live in very very rural areas. So to get to a dentist on a regular basis is quite difficult. So about almost 20 years ago, we founded the Toothmobile, and that goes out to our Head Start centers, as well as various school districts in Cumberland County, to make sure that children are seeing a dentist at least once a year and get followup services. You're looking at it right there. That's a great look at it. So that... so I'm sorry for interrupting, that Toothmobile, what goes on inside it? We have a very highly qualified dentist that comes in, along with a dental hygienist, and they do the x-rays, they clean the teeth, and if the children need followup services, they get the fillings. So it's really the whole range of what you would experience at a dental office, except that it's in an RV. Bonnie talk about what happens. I mean, our friends at the Horizon Foundation... Mm hmm. ...who are very big supporters of what you're doing... Mm hmm. ...provided a grant, if I'm not mistaken? Right. Mm hmm.To help these children. We've talked to some of them, and they're medical experts, and what they've told us is that there are real long term issues if children do not get the oral health that they need early on? Absolutely. It affects nutrition, because if your mouth is tender, you're not going to be able to eat a wide variety of foods. It affects learning, because if you're not getting sleep, because you're in pain, if you're in pain in school, you're not going to be able to function well. I can tell you a particular case that we had in our own Head Start program. We had two little boys..."