SIDNEY — Compassionate Care of Shelby County hosted the annual American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile Day, Friday, Feb. 23.
According to the ADA Foundation’s website, Give Kids a Smile Day was launched nationally in 2003, making it possible for more than 5.5 million underserved children to receive free oral health services. These free services are provided by volunteers, including approximately 10,000 dentists annually, along with 30,000 other dental team members.
According to Julie Geise, public health nurse at the Shelby County Health Department, “(These children) are not on Medicaid, and they don’t have dental insurance. That’s the big factor getting them in here.”
In Shelby County, five local dentists, along with the Shelby County Health Department, have teamed to provide the services to children at no cost to their families.
These five dentists are Dr. Charles Edelen, Dr. Damen Patel, Dr. Lee Huskey, Dr. Matthew Evers and Dr. Jeff Van Treese.
Van Treese has planned the event each year since its inception in Shelby County around 2003.
“I do all the paperwork part of it,” Van Treese said. “Then we’ve got doctors providing the services, and that’s the real give — the time we spend in our offices providing the care.”
Give Kids a Smile Day mainly consists of a quick screening for the children, which is then followed up by a visit to one of the dentist’s offices at a later date for a more in-depth exam in accordance with each child’s specific needs.
“(First), the health department does screenings in the school to see if they have problems,” Van Treese said. “If they do, they come here to see how big the problems are; then we actually do the treatment in our own offices. There’s a lot of folks coming together helping; it’s a great community partnership.”
Edelen and Patel, both of MidWest Ohio Dental Care, 425 W. Russell Road, volunteered Friday by providing a screening exam for each of the children present.
Most of the screenings were brief, lasting only a few minutes, after which each child was given a dental hygiene kit, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, to take home.
Depending on the results of the screening, a child may receive a note in the mail providing information for a follow-up appointment at one of the volunteering dental offices.
According to Erica Lentz, director of nursing at the SCHD, some 28 children were scheduled for screenings on Friday. Lentz said a flier was sent home with all Shelby County students, in second through eighth grades, explaining the program and asking all eligible parents to fill out and return slips.
Three of these children were Leanne York, 13, Ben York, 11, and Nathan York, 8, sons and daughter of Lisa and Ben York, of Russia. This trio of siblings has been seen by doctors on Give Kids a Smile Day for the past three years.
Lisa said Give Kids a Smile Day has been a great program for her family, as they have medical insurance, but not dental.
“(The doctors) have been very good to us and take good care of the kids,” said Lisa. “We’re very thankful they share their talents with us, (and) thankful this program exists because it’s been a big help.”
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