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"Dental Days" provides for Native American kids

Lawton_Everyone needs dental care at some point, but when you are a child or a teen going to school away from home, sometimes getting that care is difficult.  That's why the Oklahoma Dental Support Center and the Oklahoma Dental Foundation is putting its services on wheels. 

It's called "Dental Days" - they have a mobile unit that travels around doing routine dental work.  They travel with equipment in tow so they can set up shop on site for preventative work - their primary targets are young Native American teens and children.  7News tagged along when they made a stop at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko.

The Indian Health Service funds the program and the unit is able to set up at any location.  The dentists and tribes want to make sure these kids don't have dental problems later in life.  This unique program is the brainchild of dental hygienist Charles Brucklier whose been doing some dental work on Native American students at Riverside over the years.

Riverside is a boarding school, and the students are away from their homes and out of touch with their regular doctors and dentists while they're in school, so this is a great service for them.  "There was always more students than we could see, and there was always more work than we could do," says Brucklier.

He found out that getting to the students within the regular system was difficult.  That's when this program was born - and it's successful.  Principal Melton Noel said in just a few days volunteers serviced almost half the campus - about 275 students.  "If we didn't have this, we probably would have only seen about a fourth of the kids just because of the sheer numbers involved," says Brucklier.

He says the preventative work done on site is mainly routine fillings and sealants and dentists are also able to help those students who need immediate dental care.  Brucklier says the school based sealant program protects the students teeth so there won't be bigger problems down the road. 

Brucklier says Riverside Indian School was the first school in his program, but he plans to set up shop at other Native American schools throughout Kansas and Texas.  The equipment alone costs $60,000 and most of the work is done on a volunteer basis.  He says the "Dental Days" program will run as long as it can on the money it has from the Indian Health Service.  Brucklier has also put in for additional grants to keep the program going for as long as it's needed.

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