ISU Department of Dental Hygiene receives grants; plans to offer services to Greenacres Elementary

The Idaho State University Department of Dental Hygiene recently received grants from Idaho Power and the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Idaho to purchase mobile dental equipment and start a school-based sealant program at Greenacres Elementary School.

The department will rotate two to four senior dental hygiene students and faculty weekly to implement the program and offer dental care to approximately 70 second-grade students in the spring of 2014.

From left,  Mary Johnson, owner of Chubbuck McDonald's; Ernie Unger, board member of the Ronald McDonald House of Charities Idaho; Ellen Rogo, assistant professor of the Department of Dental Hygiene; Karen Portillo, assistant professor of the Department of Dental Hygiene; Kristen Calley, Department of Dental Hygiene chair; Mindy Plumlee, executive director of Ronald McDonald House of Charities Idaho; and Trent Cichos, owner of Blackfoot and Idaho Falls McDonald's. "We couldn't implement this program without mobile equipment," said Karen Portillo, assistant professor and community outreach coordinator for the Department of Dental Hygiene. "Our mobile equipment is something tangible that can be used from year to year for additional programs in the community. We want other schools to hear about us and want a school-based dental sealant program implemented as well."

The school-based program is not only convenient for students, but for parents as well. Students will stay on school property and receive care; relieving parents the stress of taking time off from work and traveling to and from dental clinics.

The Department of Dental Hygiene also reaches out to the community through programs including dental hygiene education for kindergarten through fifth-grade students; oral cancer screening at the Idaho State Veterans Home; and free clinics for students in rural areas where access to dental care is limited.

"We want to expand more into the community with our mobile equipment," said Portillo. "Currently, we have one chair and would like to apply for additional grants to purchase more mobile equipment in the future."

Students and faculty members in the department are also volunteering at the Pocatello Free Dental Clinic this spring to offer services to those who do not have dental insurance and cannot afford to pay for dental services.

For more information about the Department of Dental Hygiene or to schedule an appointment visit