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 Clinic Helps Ensure Healthy Smiles for Migrant Education Students

USC dentist with girl served by Migrant Education in exam chair​When a child is in pain, there’s almost no chance that he or will be able to learn effectively. Students who suffer dental problems and related pain are far less likely to succeed in school, and poor dental health can lead to other health problems later.

With that in mind, the San Diego County Office of Education's (SDCOE) Migrant Education Program has teamed up once again with the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry and its state-of-the-art mobile clinic to provide much-needed dental exams for children.

This year’s weeklong Migrant Education Program dental clinic served more than 100 students from all over the county. Sullivan Middle School in the Bonsall Unified School District provided the space for the clinic.

Students in the Migrant Education Program are screened throughout the year. The students with the greatest need were referred to the summer mobile clinic. Many of these students have multiple cavities, infections, or other dental troubles, said Migrant Health Project Specialist Adriana Paulson. 

The mobile clinic includes four trailers that are fully equipped dental offices. One of the trailers, nicknamed “Thor,” can be used as a surgery theater.

“This is an incredible program,” said Sullivan Middle School Principal Joseph Clevenger. “These trailers are filled with the most modern dental facilities imaginable.”

For the past eight years, the SDCOE Migrant Education team members have worked with the USC Ostrow School of Dentistry to promote dental health and provide dental care to hundreds of students throughout San Diego and Orange counties served by the Migrant Education Program.

Every student receives a complete dental evaluation, including teeth cleaning, X-rays, and fluoride treatment. If needed, dentists will fill cavities, apply sealants, or perform extractions. USC follows up with students who may need further dental work, such as crowns or root canals.

During the wait time, Migrant Education Program advocates and AmeriCorps members provide health-related activities and lessons for students and parents.

“Any time we have kids or parents, we're doing something to educate them,” Paulson said.

overview of Sullivan Middle gym serving as dental clinic