VERMILLION, S.D. – The Department of Dental Hygiene at the University of South Dakota has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide preventive dental services to South Dakota children, seniors and military veterans lacking access to dental care.
The HRSA-sponsored community service program called “The Rural Dental Health Services Program” aims to provide services to individuals living in rural areas of southeastern South Dakota, particularly those who are low-income, Medicaid/Medicare-eligible, uninsured and/or immobile.
The three-year, $200,000 grant allows students from the dental hygiene department to provide a variety of services including oral cancer screenings, teeth cleanings, oral debridement and oral health education. The students will be supervised by licensed faculty members. Limited dental services such as denture relines and restorative/palliative care will be provided by an accompanying dentist. Preventing oral/systemic diseases, promoting whole body wellness, and providing better access to dental care are overarching objectives.
“We are grateful for the support that HRSA has provided for the dental hygiene department in recent years. Because of the community service work aided by HRSA our students are better prepared professionals upon graduation, and the services they provide benefit the overall health of many individuals and communities,” said Ann Brunick, chair of USD’s dental hygiene department.
The HRSA grant provided to the USD Department of Dental Hygiene is one of only 13 grants given by HRSA for rural health outreach across the country. This marks the third such grant earned by USD dental hygiene from HRSA to serve public needs and broaden dental hygiene student education.