Skip to main content

News & Media

News & Media Front Page

Tooth Ferry Visits Durham Children

Contact

Duke Health News 919-660-1306

Durham, N.C.--The Tooth Ferry, a mobile dental van, made its first stop at W.G. Pearson this week, bringing much needed dental care to many children who would not be able to receive the care any other way.

The Tooth Ferry, a 40-foot custom-designed van, is a fully equipped dental office with two dental chairs, X-ray room and front office. The Tooth Ferry will initially serve four elementary schools: W.G. Pearson, Eastway, Fayetteville Street and Y.E. Smith. The schools were selected through screenings of children in need of dental care by the Durham County Health Department. The Tooth Ferry van service will be expanded after immediate needs are met at the initial four schools.

The need for the Tooth Ferry was identified by the Durham Wellness Partnership, a group that works with Durham Public Schools to help improve the health and wellness of children in the Durham community. Nearly one of every three students in some Durham elementary schools currently has dental cavities and oral pain. Access to dental care for children who receive Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) or are uninsured in Durham is generally unavailable. The Tooth Ferry will now bring dental services directly to the children in the Durham Public Schools.

The Tooth Ferry is a partnership program involving the Duke University Medical Center Division of Community Health (a joint division of the Department of Community and Family Medicine and the Duke School of Nursing), Durham Public Schools, and the Durham County Health Department. The van is funded by a $198,000 grant from The Duke Endowment and a $15,000 grant from the Durham County Board of Commissioners, and reimbursement to the Durham County Health Department for services to Medicaid and CHIP.

Efforts have been underway to obtain parent or legal guardian signed consent forms before the Tooth Ferry begins services on Aug. 22. Durham County Health Department personnel and Tooth Ferry staff are working with Durham Public Schools officials during the open house sessions at the four elementary schools. Any child seen for service on the Tooth Ferry must have a signed consent form from the parent or legal guardian.

For additional information, contact: Durham Public Schools, Donna Smith (919) 560-2503; Durham County Health Department, Brian Letourneau (919) 560-7650; Duke University Medical Center Division of Community Health,
Susan Epstein (919) 681-3188.

News & Media Front Page