By Dave Zazac, ACHD Administration
To celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month in February, I interviewed the Administrator of the ACHD Dental Program, Dr. Sandra Thompson. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Why did you want to be a dentist and what brought you to us in public health? I became a dentist because I was interested in medicine and liked working with my hands. Shortly after my dental school graduation, I was hired as a part time contract dentist for ACHD. I found public health more fulfilling than private practice because it focuses on prevention of cavities. Starting with visits to WIC & FCH, parents receive education on how to prevent cavities. We have former patients who are bringing their own children to our clinics because they remember having a positive experience.
What about your staff? I believe you couldn’t do without them. You are certainly correct about my staff. PA licenses Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioners (PHDHP) who are experienced dental hygienists with additional training who can practice in a public health setting, under the general supervision rather than direct supervision of a dentist. ACHD is fortunate to have 3 PHDHPs: Charmaine Rahamut-Ali Smith, Elizabeth Franz and Kattrina Ehn. ACHD also has dental assistants, like Ethel Lynn Tolliver, who keep the clinics running smooth. In the past, they’ve helped coordinate the Fluoride Varnish and Dental Sealant programs. Lastly, ACHD has several contracted dentists that provide services beyond the scope of the PHDHP, not only in our clinics but in the school programs as well.
How can we all celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month? In the past, we used social media to promote our clinics during February. Our clinics are now booked for months, but unfortunately have a high “no show” rate. We’re hoping our social media and website can be used in an educational effort about good dental health to decrease this rate by getting children and their parents to keep their scheduled dental appointments.