SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Dentist Quynh Nguyen of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics says half of children in California have tooth decay.
"California ranked 47 out of 51 state in oral health for children. We are one of the worst states," said Nguyen.
Nguyen says many low-income young people in the community face a lack of access to dental services, which can lead to more serious health problems.
But thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, the nonprofit organization purchased a new Mobile Dental Clinic van.
"We’re able to not only purchase the van but also all this equipment with the grant that they gave us," said Nguyen.
Instead of going to an office for a dental appointment, the dentist is now going to the student at the Santa Barbara unified school district.
“Exciting actually, I know that it might seem like a bit underwhelming at first, but bringing all this equipment to the school sites and be able to be able to address this decay. Italian might sound cheesy but peoples smiles really does mean a lot to them," said dental outreach coordinator Martin Villegas of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.
With the Mobile Dental Clinic van, all students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District can now receive dental care.
"By being able to not only take care of the decay itself and the disease, but also give them a little bit more confidence in their smile, and actually makes a very big impact for them and they’re overall life quality, I believe," said Villegas.
The van allows the dentist to provide diagnostic, preventive, and corrective procedures, including x-rays, thus eliminating accessibility issues for students.
"We see less and less children that need fillings so that’s why we are going forward with this," said Nguyen.
The mobile dental clinic is not only focused on dental care at the schools, but also serves as an educational vehicle visiting community festivals, health fairs, and after-school programs for quality dental care.