Since 1991, the Colgate-Palmolive has run a free nationwide program to provide dental screening for children who may not be able to receive regular care, and to encourage regular dental screening. Typically, the program operates in Washington, D.C., however, in lieu of National Dental Health Month, the traveling dental van has scheduled trips to areas of Maryland.
The van, which consists of 2 dental chairs sized specifically for children, can screen approximately 150 children per day. Volunteer dental hygienists provide an examination for children and send them off with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a take home report card for their parents. In order to encourage participation, the van has been outfitted to be comfortable and enticing to the children, even showing dental related cartoons.
Recently, a dentist from Carroll County coordinated to bring this service to the local schools. In her 20 years practicing dentistry, she indicated that tooth decay among children has become far more prevalent, especially within the last 5 years. It is her hope that the screening will entice children and remind parents regarding the importance of dental care. Dental care, in her opinion, is often neglected due to a lack of dental insurance or the funds to cover regular care. This results in reactionary visits when something is wrong, but not regular checkups that can prevent emergencies.