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‘Smiles 2 Geaux,’ mobile oral health care for New Orleanians

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
As a dentist, Dr. Yaye Sarr always notices people’s teeth. And living in New Orleans for the past thirteen years, Dr. Sarr wondered about the health and care of the teeth of New Orleanians, in particular. But instead of just wondering why so many people had dental issues in this city, Dr. Sarr decided to put something into motion, a public health dentistry program that would provide oral health care to those New Orleanians who need it most.
 
In December 2011, Dr. Sarr left her faculty position at Tulane University to start Smiles 2 Geaux, New Orleans’ very own mobile dental clinic, administering “high-quality oral health care to disadvantaged populations within New Orleans.”
Cause Spotlight: Smiles 2 Geaux | IntheNOLA.com
“I’ve always worked with people who didn’t have access,” said Dr. Sarr. “Since there was no public health dentistry program in New Orleans, I just decided to start one. I sent an email to Dr. Karen DeSalvo at the city department of health asking if that office would be interested in some type of collaboration and they said yes. We set up a meeting where they informed me that they had 2 buses, one for schools and one for seniors, with dental health equipment just parked and not being used. So I said, ‘Give them to me! I’ll use them!’”
 
With the newfound buses, Smiles 2 Geaux was ready for some action! Everyday, the Smiles 2 Geaux buses make their way to the different schools in New Orleans. “When we take the bus out to a school, we plan to see a minimum of fifteen students. The hardest part is collecting the consent forms from the students. We send them out, but in order for us to provide services, we need moms and dads to be aware of them. Dental care is as important as general health. When you have a cavity in your mouth, it’s like you have an open door to your body.”
Cause Spotlight: Smiles 2 Geaux | IntheNOLA.com
Not only does Smiles 2 Geaux provide dental care for our youngest New Orleanians with their “School-Based Dental Care Program,” but also to our wisest New Orleanians with the “Geriatric Dental Care Program” free of charge. “This program intends to provide dental care to senior citizens at retirement homes, nursing homes, and other residential institutions.”
 
Smiles 2 Geaux aims to make dental care accessible to ALL individuals regardless of age or socioeconomic status. Patients receive “annual dental cleaning and fluoride application, sealants, basic restorations, follow-up care, and oral health education” all in Smiles 2 Geaux’s great mobile clinic.
Cause Spotlight: Smiles 2 Geaux | IntheNOLA.com
Dr. Sarr concluded, “I’m a public health professional. In public health, you don’t look at health as an issue for one person. You look at health as an issue for a population as a whole. If people can’t afford proper care, it’s up to us as a society to find ways to help.”
 
For more information about Smiles 2 Geaux, please visit the website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Last modified on Tuesday, 26 March 2013
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