Grayline: Providing Dental Services for Tucson’s Under-Served Kids for Over 35 Years
For Dr. Jeff Martin, an important aspect of his dentistry practice is making sure he can volunteer his time and skill to the under-served people in his community. One of Dr. Martin’s favorite programs to work with is the Grayline program. Coordinated by the Dental Services for Tucson Unified School District, the Grayline program provides free dental care for eligible TUSD students. The program is designed for K-12 students who are ineligible for other programs, but have urgent dental needs and who meet the income requirements. The dentists and dental hygienists participating in Grayline provide care for the students with urgent dental needs, including severe tooth pain and infection.
Teachers on the Frontline
The first person that usually notices a child’s need for dental services is their teacher. When the teacher sees that a child’s teeth are in bad shape or that they are missing school because of their discomfort, the teacher will notify TUSD Dental Hygienist, Shawn Everingham.
How TUSD Helps Students in Need Get Dental Help
Ms. Everingham has the herculean task of overseeing the dental health of the approximately 50,000 students attending TUSD schools. She does this by offering education to the students and parents, providing dental evaluations as needed and coordinating any additional services according to each student’s individual needs. Once Ms. Everingham identifies a student in need of emergency dental care, that is not eligible for other programs, she lines them up to receive service through the Grayline program.
TUSD provides transportation during school hours for the referred child to be taken to and from the office of one of the participating dentists. Dr. Martin stated that most of the children he sees through Grayline have severe tooth decay and/or infections. Most, he said, tend to be between the ages of 8 and 11 and often have not practiced good oral hygiene. If he finds infection, it is totally cleaned out and the child is treated with antibiotics. He frequently fills cavities or sometimes need to do a root canal. In more severe cases, he has had to remove teeth that are beyond repair.
Martin-Taylor Dentistry Providing Free Care
Dr. Martin is one of 100 Tucson dentists who volunteer their time and resources to care for these kids. On average, he cares for at least one child per month from the Grayline Program. Since he became active with Grayline when he began his practice back in 1978, that means Dr. Martin has provided emergency dental services for over 400 needy kids. And nothing could make him happier.
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