Roseland Community Hospital relaunches mobile dental program, bringing exams and education to young South Siders

ROSELAND — A hospital on the far South Side provides dental education for young Chicagoans and their parents, including working in parts of the South Side that have long lacked access to routine dental care.

Roseland Community Hospital’s mobile dental clinic returned in February after a hiatus during the pandemic. Dental van staff are again providing young people and their families with dental checkups, cleanings and goody bags with toothbrushes and other hygiene items, hospital officials said.

Patients at the mobile clinic receive check-ups every six months, and staff refer patients to local dentists if they need more complex care.

Credit: Provided
Young participants of the Roseland Community Hospital Mobile Dental Clinic enter a mobile dental van.

Deputy Director Antwone Belt, a Roseland native who oversees the program, said the clinic is improving access to dental care for children and parents in his home neighborhood.

Belt said he had teeth that looked like “the skyscrapers of Chicago” when he was younger, and his peers teased him. But he received dental work in high school that inspired him to pursue health care, and now Roseland’s mobile clinic enables others to pursue proper oral health care.

“Kids can learn good dental hygiene, parents can learn things they probably didn’t even know,” Belt said. “[We can] make the kids not ashamed of the way their teeth look because maybe they were made fun of at school like me, and take that and kind of turn a negative into positive.

Belt and the team also work with daycare workers and parents, teaching them how to instill good dental care habits in children so they are healthier throughout their lives.

“It’s like a dream, it’s a dream come true,” Belt said. “Because you really have a role to play in engaging your community, people who know what Roseland was like, what we’re doing – having a real involvement with those people.”

The mobile dental clinic started in 2013. The hospital was able to launch the mobile dental program and get its signature van thanks to a grant from the Washington Square Health Foundation.

Credit: Provided
A participant of the mobile dental clinic receives dental treatment.

Belt believes the mobile dental clinic is a long-needed public service for Roseland, which has historically had limited access to fair health care and information.

“A lot of these things that other neighborhoods or communities may have to see on a regular basis, we haven’t had those kinds of opportunities,” Belt said. “That’s why the dental program is so integral, because we can go to you.”

With the mobile dental clinic returning to Roseland and other communities, Belt hopes he and his colleagues can continue to provide services for years to come.

“I just want to carry on with this message, year after year,” Belt said. “It’s not about numbers; it is about education. I want to continue with this trend and get people to understand that at Roseland Hospital, we really appreciate what we do and we want to help save lives, to promote people in the best way possible, to be the best version of ‘themselves.

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