DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Free mobile dentistry in Okaloosa and Walton County has an upgrade, now providing restorative care for kids with a new state-of-the-art clinic on wheels. The Children’s Volunteer Health Network said 1 in 5 kids they treat needs extra dental care.

In its first week of operation at Riverside Elementary School in Crestview, Executive Director Megan Trent said 17 to 20% of patients treated in the preventative care bus are needing work in the restorative care bus.

“We have had our preventative mobile dental clinic serving Okaloosa and Walton counties for several years now, and that was we were able to offer dental hygienist services. So preventative care cleanings and preventative education and ways that we can help the kids with just their Oral hygiene and care that they were not, you know, able to get previously,” said Trent. “What we were seeing is that almost one in every five cases had urgent care needs. They needed extractions or, you know root, root issues being addressed.”

CVHN provides free dental and mental health treatment for 1,100 underprivileged children in the region each year. CVHN said they serve 8 local schools, as well as afterschool programs like the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast.

How does it work?

CVHN sends applications to the schools for parents and students to fill out. The bus will show up at the school and treat patients on a designated week.

A hygienist will see the kid and assess the teeth first in the preventative care bus, Pearl. If the student is flagged as urgent, Dr. Iysha Cawthon will review the case and develop a treatment plan for the restorative care unit.

“I send home a treatment plan with the parents and if they like my treatment plan then they will kind of consent me to treat their child,” said Cawthon. “This is our first week, I’m in the process of sending those out so we’re not actually doing the extractions or the restorative care quite yet, but that’s right around the corner.”

With the new unit, kids that need special care can immediately get checked into a pediatric dentist. In the past, CVHN would recommend treatment at a local dentist with the kids not always making it in to see the doctor.

“We were having to refer those children to get a dentist appointment. And that was hard for them to afford and have accessibility to for the families and so our restorative dental clinic is now staffed with a certified board-certified pediatric dentist,” said Trent. “So we are fully equipped to do dental procedures that will allow us to do Urgent care cases and address those in the moment for the kids.”

The restorative bus can treat things such as fillings, caps, and root extractions. Nothing is done without a parent’s approval of the sent-home treatment plan. The students are served on a highest-need basis, meaning the most urgent cases will be treated first.

Assessments and treatments in the mobile units can take about 3 weeks before the mobile units move on to a different school.

The new bus was completely paid for by CVHN donors. The growing organization is a non-profit operating solely by donations.