The University Record, July 1, 2002

Migrant Workers to receive dental care from U-M students

By Jerry Mastey
School of Dentistry

One of the School of Dentistry’s most popular oral health care programs, the summer migrant dental clinic, is under way in Northwest Lower Michigan through Aug. 2.

During the six weeks, dental students provide a range of oral health care services and offer oral health care advice to migrant workers and members of their families in the Traverse City area.

Children of migrant workers receive dental care during the day at local schools while their parents are working. Adult migrant workers receive oral health care in the evening at the same sites.

To make it easy and convenient for children and adults to receive treatment, portable equipment such as x-ray machines, dental chairs, and air and water devices, are set up at the schools.

Robert Bagramian, professor of dentistry and director of the summer clinic, says, “This program, which now is in its 29th year, illustrates both the school’s and the University’s commitment to the state of Michigan.”

Bagramian says last year nearly 300 patients were treated during the program, about the same number as the previous year. During the six-weeks, dental students placed more than 350 sealants, administered nearly 150 fluoride treatments, filled nearly 270 tooth surfaces and extracted 110 teeth.

Bagramian says the summer program continues to be popular with dental students. “As in previous years, this year we again had more applicants than spaces available.” Forty-eight students applied for 24 open positions. He says several factors determined which of the dental students, all seniors when the fall term begins in August, were selected for the summer migrant dental program. “These students are in the upper level of their class, both clinically and academically, and have demonstrated a commitment to serving others,” Bagramian says.

Ryan Van Haren, who received his dental degree this May, and Andres Ocampo, a graduate student, will supervise this year’s program.

Students who participate in the program have consistently been enthused about their experiences during their two-week rotations. Typical comments include: “This was the greatest experience I had in dental school.” “It’s interesting to work with a patient population from a different culture.” “I felt as though I made a difference.”

The School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service. General dental care clinics, and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment, enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.

More information is available on the Web at www.dent.umich.edu.