MORGANTOWN, WV (July 26, 2023) — Hiking, skateboarding and BMX bike riding are just a few of the recreational activities available at the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in Glen Jean, which takes place through Friday.
So it’s not surprising to learn that Jamboree participants — many of whom are in the brace-wearing demographic — are experiencing some dental emergencies.
A collaboration consisting of Smile Express — Monongalia County Health Department’s mobile dental office — and the WVU School of Dentistry has alleviated these situations with repair work, sometimes temporary, that will get the Scouts back up and running until they can see their dentists back home.
“There is a lot of orthodontic intervention,” said Tiffany Summerlin, a dental hygienist at MCHD Dentistry, the health department’s full-service dental office, and the Smile Express coordinator. “There are a lot of high adventure activities that the Scouts are doing, and that does not mix well with orthodontics.”
For instance, a skateboarding Scout fell on his face, and while his braces kept him from breaking any teeth, work was required to fix the brackets.
Dr. Michael Bagby, the associate dean for pre-doctoral academic affairs at the School of Dentistry, and a team of students were able to “fix him up and get him back to having a good time,” Summerlin said.
It’s a win-win for the dental students, Dr. Bagby noted. “They just got a little more experience with teenagers,” he said. “Half of the problems teenagers encounter are with orthodontic appliances, and at our school, because they would have gone to the orthodontic department, this is something new for them.”
About 10,000 Scouts from across the country, as well as about 5,000 leaders and other support staff, have descended upon the Summit Bechtel Reserve from July 19-28 for the National Jamboree.
Dental care has been provided in the past, noted Dr. Mark Henderson, a retired dentist from Kaufman, Texas who heads up emergency dental services at the Jamboree. In past Jamborees, he noted, services were performed from a tent.
“At the last two Jamborees, we were in a very high-quality tent, but with a very poor floor,” Dr. Henderson added. “Dentists need to be able to scoot around, sitting on a chair with five sets of wheels to see the mouth from every angle.”
In an email directed to Monongalia County Health Department’s leadership and Board of Health members, Dr. Henderson expressed delight in Smile Express, launched in 2018 with a goal of traveling among six counties so staff members can treat students without a dental home, as well as other outreach opportunities.
“The RV is everything we hoped it would be,” Dr. Henderson said. “The staff have been exemplary models of professionalism, emulating genuine total dedication to the betterment of all the patients within the radius of their ability to travel and who are in genuine need of improvements to their quality of life,” he wrote in the email.
In addition to Summerlin and Dr. Bagby, dental staff members who have traveled down to the Jamboree include MCHD Dentistry’s Dr. Youseph Kassar and dental assistant Velvet Urgo, as well as Dr. Stephen Pachuta, dean of the WVU School of Dentistry.
“WVU is a big supporter of scouting,” Dr. Pachuta said. “President (Gordon) Gee is a big supporter, and we had the opportunity in the Health Sciences schools to partner with Monongalia County Health Department and the BSA to provide care.”
Dr. Bagby and three students covered the first half of the Jamboree, while Dr. Pachuta and three additional students were there for the second half.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to get community service and deliver care in a non-traditional setting,” Dr. Pachuta said. “They are very excited to be here. They are enjoying their experience and we are providing marvelous care.”
Smile Express is a converted 2005 Winnebago Voyage motorhome with three slide-outs, two dental operatories, digital X-ray equipment, a sterilization center, software to send images back to MCHD Dentistry and a gaming station in the waiting area.
“The bus is really great and it makes our lives very much better than in previous years,” Dr. Bagby said. “The staff that came down with the bus has been very helpful and helped us with the computer system that we weren’t familiar with.” Talks about a collaboration between MCHD and the WVU School of Dentistry began in 2019, said Dr. Bill Ramsey, the associate vice president of WVU Health Sciences who ‘brokered” the deal.
“I knew Monongalia County Health Department had the mobile dental clinic,” said Dr. Ramsey, who connected with his longtime acquaintance, Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD’s county health officer.
“It’s been a great resource, and good visibility for the School of Dentistry and Monongalia County Health Department.”
In addition to Scouts with orthodontics interventions, the dental crew has also helped out adults in need of care.
“We’ve had a few Scout leaders and staff members who lose a crown and need it recemented, or they have a filling fall out… nothing too traumatic,” Summerlin said. Said Dr. Kassar of MCHD Dentistry: “The dentists and students working the dental clinic there have done a great job of managing any urgent dental needs. I’m very glad and appreciative that we were able to go down and be a part of the BSA National Jamboree.”
For up-to-date information on health and wellness in Monongalia County, check out monchd.org and follow the health department on Facebook and Twitter @WVMCHD and on Instagram at #wvmchd.