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Dental care in Dallas and beyond

2011 Mayor's Back to School Fair These youngsters were two of 1,265 Dallas school children to attend the Aug. 4 Mayor's Back to School Fair and receive free screenings and fluoride varnishes.

Public health sciences expands on back-to-school initiative with Fort Worth, Irving fairs

It’s nearly the end of the day, but there is still a steady stream of mothers with children in tow. Most of the children are of school age and are present to get crucial dental care before the start of classes. Of course they are with siblings, many toted on their mothers’ hips or pushed in strollers.

Once each family is finished at the sign-in table, they filter into one of Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry’s 25 stations, where children undergo a dental screening and receive fluoride varnish.

This particular Thursday afternoon marks the 15th Annual Mayor’s Back to School Fair, a free event offered every year at Fair Park to provide school supplies, immunizations, dental and vision screenings, and haircuts to approximately 15,000 qualifying Dallas school children.

2011 Mayor's Back to School Fair
Fluoride packets for the 2011 fair were in part donated
by Colgate.

Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., a mix of 100 faculty, staff, pediatric dentistry residents, D2s, D3s, DH2s, University of Texas at Dallas predental students and even volunteers from TAMHSC-BCD student development program showed up to help. In all, 1,265 school children received fluoride varnish and screenings, and each child was equipped with a toothbrush and toothpaste donated by Colgate.

Aug. 4 was the public health sciences department’s fifth year participating in the Dallas back-to-school fair, the department’s single largest event. The sheer number of children served each year has allowed public health sciences to fine tune its processes and expand its reach to other metroplex school districts in need.

This has resulted in the department’s marathon participation in two other 2011 fairs — the Tarrant County Back to School Roundup at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on Aug. 10 and Irving’s Annual Back to School Fiesta at Irving Mall on Aug. 18.

“We managed to operate it more smoothly than we had before, so we’re learning the ropes,” Public Health Sciences Chair Dr. Dan Jones says of the Dallas fair.

“That’s why we feel more comfortable moving to Irving and Fort Worth,” he says. “It fits with the community service mission of the school.”

At the Fort Worth event, the department expected to provide fluoride varnish and screenings to 1,000 students. That is an increase from 800 students last year, when the dental school only provided screenings. Oral Health America donated the fluoride varnish for this year’s event, and the Greater Fort Worth Dental Hygienists’ Society helped with screenings.

Back in Dallas County, the dental school participated for the first time in the Irving back-to-school initiative, which was expected to draw 500 students.