224490 Critical elements in the design and construction of mobile dental units

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Douglas W. Cross, DDS , Health Department, City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Mabel Blache, DDS, MPH , Health Department, City, New Orleans, LA
Celeste Terry, RDH , New Orleans Health Department Dental Division, City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Evangeline Franklin, MD, MPH , Health Department, City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Adriene J. Gill, RN, MN , Health Department, City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
Mosanda Mvula, MD, MPH , City of New Orleans Health Department, New Orleans, LA
Background: Mobile dental clinics have provided critical expansion of public oral health services to underserved populations. The New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) has had a mobile dental program for over 30 years providing oral health screenings and procedures at schools and senior citizens' centers. During this time, countless problems from equipment failure could have been avoided by improved design. More severe problems have stopped operations for extended periods. Building a mobile dental unit takes more than just putting dental equipment into a large vehicle. Lack of familiarity of mobile dental unit design considerations can lead to expensive repairs and maintenance.The few older manuals available do not include the newer hands-on experience essential to address successful up-to-date ‘dentistry on wheels.'

Methods: Two mobile units were lost by the NOHD to Hurricanes Katrina/Rita. In their replacements, the NOHD Dental Department made many good design and construction corrections by surveying and analyzing critical problems garnered from experience intended to improve utility, comfort and increase the life of the units.

Results: More than 20 critical “pearls of wisdom” included in the design of these units will be shared to make the first time purchase of a mobile dental unit a less daunting task for a public health agency which can result in expected increase life and serviceability of the new dental units.

Conclusions: Implementing a mobile dental unit requires more than just textbook knowledge. Seeking advice from those with experience may be critical in your program's success.

Learning Areas:
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1.Compare the different types of mobile dental units. 2.Understand the advantage of various construction techniques. 3.Design your unit to service your specific target population. 4.Evaluate equipment for the mobile environment. 5.Understand critical 'pearls of wisdom' to include in the details of your planning.

Keywords: Oral Health, Outreach Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have practiced mobile dentistry since 1982 with the New Orleans Health Department.I supervised the design and construction of 3 mobile dental units. Much of the necessary repairs and maintenance was personally done by me.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.