CFMC Capacity Grant Update: WellSpring Dental Clinic

Would you rather look at a small, flat 2-inch black & white X-ray of your tooth or see your teeth and gums in living color on a 17” screen?  Which would educate and motivate you to take better care of your teeth and gums?

The Community Foundation of Morgan County grant will be used to purchase an intra- oral camera system to help dental patients see what is going on in their mouths. Then the dentist can explain the good and bad and try to motivate the patient to do the best they can for their oral health.   A picture is worth a thousand words, so the dentist can be more efficient by spending less chair time explaining a small X-ray to the patient.  Color photos of the teeth and gums can also be printed to capture before & after conditions.

The patients seen at the WellSpring Dental Clinic include adults living at the emergency WellSpring shelter and WellSpring’s aftercare clients as well as women at Magdalene House. The clinic also serves more long-term tenants at HopeSpring, and unsheltered people who may be living in sheds or cars.  Often, they have not seen a dentist in many years and have lived with pain, decay, gum disease, and embarrassment.

As part of helping these patients improve their lives, education is just as important as actual dental services.  The color intra-oral camera system will greatly help the dentist explain the patient’s condition and recommend treatment options.

Another portion of the programming supported by the CFMC grant is for a caries (cavity) detector. Is the black spot on the tooth a cavity or just a stain?  How deep is the cavity?  The cavity may be in a location difficult to see on an X-ray.  An electric current caries detector is another tool to help the dentist diagnose a problem and help the patient understand what is involved in treating it.  If the cavity isn’t too deep, as revealed by the caries detector, the patient may be able to have a small filling placed without needing anesthesia.   The caries detector uses the conductivity of fluids present in teeth to complete (or not complete) an electrical current that is registered from 00-100 on a small display.

The system is anticipated to be ready for use by late summer.  Then approximately 20 patients a month at the WellSpring Dental Clinic will benefit from this modern equipment to better educate the patients and help them improve their oral health.

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