Dentists work on a patient in the Howard University College of Dentistry. A clinic with evening hours will open in the spring. Courtesy Photo
It was two years ago that the death of a 12-year-old Prince Georgeâ€™s County boy brought much needed attention to the problems that lack of adequate dental care can cause. Diamonte Driver died of an infection from a decayed tooth that had spread to his brain because his mother couldnâ€™t get dental care for him.
Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2009 03:31
Dr. Leslie Lawrence is the director of Howard University College of Dentistryâ€™s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, and she and her colleagueâ€™s have vowed to never have another such incident happen again, at least not on their watch.
Consequently, the dental school is opening an evening clinic this spring to provide dental care for the underserved children of Washington. It is called the United Health Community Health Dental Program.
â€œThe United Health Foundation Community Health Dental Program is not just another program. It is an investment,â€ Lawrence said. â€œThis was all put into place so those families who traditionally fall through the cracks can have a place to bring their children in the evening. The hope is that by providing quality oral health care for children who traditionally have a difficult time receiving care, we can make sure they receive the care they need,â€ Lawrence said.
â€œFor families with parents who are juggling so many things, dental health sometimes gets pushed to the side,â€ Lawrence added, stressing the importance of evening hours.
Dr. Nicole Ray is a dentist in private practice on Georgia Avenue not far north of Howard University. She applauds the schoolâ€™s effort.
â€œHaving a night clinic encourages parents to have their childrenâ€™s oral health care taken care of,â€ Ray said. â€œMost times parents are weary of taking their children out of school or taking off of work to take their children to get the care they need.
â€œHaving later hours is a tremendous convenience for parents.â€
Raynia Prestwood is the mother of three, ages 10, 2 and 1. Prestwood said that she and her husband definitely see the advantages of an evening clinic.
â€œMy husband and I have nine to five jobs and find it difficult to take off of work to get care for our children,â€ Prestwood said. â€œAn evening clinic is a great asset, because it allows us busy parents to have a place to take our children after hours where they can receive the same quality care as they would during regular business hours.â€