About eight years ago, dental professionals Joni Duy and Mona Baiunco thought of a plan to help the many Brevard, Fla., residents who, because of age or infirmity, can no longer make it to the dental office.
With Duy and Baiunco’s help, the dental office goes to the person in need.
A recent story in Florida Today by Marie Sonnenberg tells about Hygiene on the Go which is more ministry than business for the two dentists, both of whom remain passionate about how they are giving people a reason to smile.
When off from their regular jobs and on weekends, the two women head out to nursing homes and private residences to deliver their brand of dental hygiene. Duy is a business and marketing graduate of the University of Central Florida. Baiunco also earned her bachelor’s from UCF, and she is a certified dental assistant.
Here are some of the questions and answers from Sonnenberg’s story about the wonderful service:
Q: What got you interested in the mobile dental hygiene service, Joni?
A: Mona realized there was a significant deficiency in oral health care for the elderly and for those who do not have the ability to drive themselves to a dentist. Another motivation came from a more personal source. My father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly 15 years and I saw the difficulty my mother had trying to maintain his oral health.
Q: What’s the age bracket for the people you help?
A: Sweet Patty, our youngest, is 30, and we go all the way up to our lovely 104-year-old great great-grandmother. It’s not really about age, but about their conditions. Most of our clients suffer from Alzheimer’s, dementia or Parkinson’s disease. It is virtually impossible for them to go out.
Q: What do your visits entail?
A: Our visits are not just clinical. We take the time to visit and talk with each one like they are family. We can truly empathize with the family of a loved one who has a debilitating illness. We understand the difficulty of providing care and treatment.
We provide comprehensive brushing, soft plaque removal, flossing, denture or partial cleaning, along with a non-prescription fluoride and antibacterial rinse. We provide instructions for self-oral health care and a complementary oral screening. If needed, we will provide a referral to a local dentist or physician.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost for the visit is $60. We keep it affordable because we understand many of our senior citizens are on fixed incomes.
Q: How important is it for the elderly to maintain good oral hygiene?
A: Elderly citizens are at a much greater risk for oral health problems if they lack the mobility or communication skills necessary to obtain regular preventive care. Unfortunately, the consequences of poor oral health go far beyond just a dingy smile or bad breath. Neglecting oral health can lead to very serious health problems. Oftentimes, the elderly suffer from painful teeth and gum problems without anyone even knowing. Treatment and relief can start only after these conditions are discovered.