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NYU dental van rolls on thanks to restored city funding

July 27, 2015

By Michelle Manchir

Photo of New York City public school children in front of the NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile dental van
On-the-go smiles: New York City public school children stand in front of the NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile dental van at an event in February.

New York — The New York City Council in its 2016 fiscal year budget restored funding for a dental van program associated with the New York University College of Dentistry that provides dental care and education to about 2,000 public school children annually, according to a news release from the university.

After a pause in funding starting in 2013, the council in June voted to support the dental van program, the university said.

“We thank the members of the City Council for their diligent work to ensure this vital public health resource continues to provide access to quality dental care and oral health instruction for NYC’s school kids,” said Constance Robinson-Turner, dental van program manager.

Dental residents, predoctoral students and hygiene students who are supervised by an experienced pediatric dentist staff the mobile dental van, said Christopher James, a spokesman for NYU College of Dentistry.

The van features two operatories, each equipped with digital X-ray units; patient chairs with a delivery system and overhead lighting, Mr. James said. There is also a compressor and an amalgam separator on board.

Children who are treated receive information regarding continuing their dental care at the dental college and are given with a pediatric dental provider list. Also, the dental van provides recall visits to the sites, Mr. James said.

“I am delighted that the city is investing in the smiles of our children,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “When dental clinics were removed from public schools in 2009, damage was done to our children because dental care is inaccessible and unaffordable for too many families. The NYU College of Dentistry’s mobile Dental Van Program has been helping children receive the dental care they need and, with restored funding, they will continue to provide these vital services.”

The van operates with additional state funding and donations, including from NYU’s dental college. The Starr Foundation provided $750,000 when the program began more than 10 years ago.