Smiles Across Minnesota

March 16, 2011
School-based dental program targets elementary school and Hhildren.

MOORHEAD, Minnesota--Smiles Across Minnesota has expanded its statewide preventive dental program to the Moorhead School District.

To read more about Oral Health America, go to OHA.

The program will help improve the oral health of uninsured and underinsured children. Smiles Across Minnesota provides children ages three to 12 with preventive dental services--including cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants--right within the schools at no cost to the schools.

“We are pleased to help bring this important program to Moorhead schools as it aligns with our focus on helping youth and children succeed,” said Dr. Lynne Kovash, superintendent, Moorhead School District.

“When Children’s Dental Services and Delta Dental of Minnesota introduced the Smiles Across Minnesota program to us, we realized it fit a strong need of our communities as on average 40% of our children are eligible to receive these services. Children need to be able to attend school at their healthiest to increase their potential for learning.”

Dental services will be offered to students at participating schools and administered by a local dental hygienist and dental assistant employed by Children’s Dental Services.

“Preventive measures, such as education, sealants and fluoride treatments, have a long-term impact on a child’s future dental health and well-being,” explained Sarah Wovcha, executive director of Children’s Dental Services and co-chair of Smiles Across Minnesota. “Community based programs are cost-effective. Children receiving dental sealants in school-based programs have 60% less decay for up to five years. We anticipate serving 500-800 children in the first year.”

Children’s Dental Services will provide care for children on public assistance. Uninsured students who are income-eligible will receive free care through the program, paid for by charitable corporate and foundation contributions. If a family already has commercial insurance, those children and their parents will be encouraged to visit their previously established dental home. If they do not have a primary dentist, children will be referred either to a local dentist or the family will be assisted in finding appropriate services. All children receiving care will need parental consent.

Smiles Across Minnesota provides preventive dental services at no cost to the child or school. To date, Delta Dental of Minnesota has provided nearly $500,000 to support Smiles Across Minnesota sites, including $20,000 in start-up funding for Moorhead.

The Medica Foundation has pledged an additional $100,000 and United Way of Cass-Clay an additional $30,000 for three years of sustaining funding. Dakota Medical Foundation has also committed funding and provided local support for the successful launch of a program in the region.

“As the state’s largest dental benefits administrator, we are extremely pleased to see the problems of dentally uninsured and underserved children being acknowledged as an important unmet healthcare need,” said Ann Johnson, executive director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Trust and co-chair of Smiles Across Minnesota.

“In addition, to providing start-up funding, we are also pleased to partner with both national and local organizations that are deeply committed to improving the health of underserved children — Oral Health America and United Way of Cass-Clay. In addition, Medica Foundation and Dakota Medical Foundation are generously providing funds to sustain the program.”

“United Way of Cass-Clay is proud to collaborate with Moorhead Public Schools, Children’s Dental Services, Delta Dental and Oral Health America to invest in the Smiles Across Minnesota program,” said Kristina Hein, marketing & brand management director of United Way of Cass-Clay.

"Improving the oral health of children in our community is a piece of United Way of Cass-Clay’s strategy to help children and youth achieve their full potential through education and improving our communities’ on-time graduation rates. By investing in this program, United Way of Cass-Clay is helping to provide preventive dental services to children and removing financial and transportation-related barriers that relate to school success."

Aded Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America, “Smiles Across Minnesota is a model Smiles Across America program partner, demonstrating how to successfully collaborate with communities and expand services while identifying needs and eliminating barriers to oral health care and education throughout the state.”

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