United Way gets Smiles Across America grant

Oct. 11, 2010
National and regional partners collaborate to bring school-based dental services to Alachua (Fla.) County children.

GAINESVILLE, Florida--The University of Florida College of Dentistry, in conjunction with Oral Health America's Smiles Across America, has announced a new $20,000 grant award to the United Way of North Central Florida.

The announcement took place at an event at M.K. Rawlings Elementary School to help raise awareness for oral disease prevention in Alachua County (Fla.). The partnership will provide school-based and school-linked dental services to four Alachua County elementary and middle schools and Head Start with plans to expand the program in the next several years. The SAA award is made possible through a grant from the Patterson Foundation to OHA.

“If we want our children to be in school, ready to learn, communities have a vested interest in working in partnership with dental care providers to ensure care and teach good habits that will last a lifetime and keep teeth and mouths healthy,” said Beth Truett, president and CEO, OHA.

“Community-wide commitment to this issue in Alachua County makes it an ideal site for a pilot program, and we are honored to support your work.”

The pilot program will provide dental sealant and education to 120 second graders at Rawlings and Metcalfe elementary schools, 491 sixth graders at Bishop and Lincoln middle schools, and 1,251 Head Start students. Participants will be required to have signed permission slips from parents.

“This project is a prime example of how United Way brings together the individuals and organizations with the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done,” said United Way of North Central Florida President and CEO Karen Bricklemyer.

“There are too may partners to list, many of them new, but they all have one thing in common--an interest in helping children.”

Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic childhood disease in the U.S., and children lose more than 51 million school hours each year due to dental related illness. According to a public opinion survey commissioned by the OHA and sponsored by Oral Healthcare Can’t Wait and Plackers, nearly two-thirds (65%) of parents are looking to schools to help reinforce the importance of oral health.

They say it is extremely or very important for schools to teach children about taking care of their teeth. At school, just four in 10 (39%) children report learning about oral or dental health in the past year.

“With deferred preventive dental care even more prevalent in today's challenging economic circumstances, what better time to help raise awareness about good oral health,” said Ann Gugino, Oral Health America board member and vice president of finance and operations at Patterson Dental.

Plackers provided dental flossers to children at the M.K. Rawlings Elementary School to show their commitment to oral health education in schools.

For more information, visit www.oralhealthamerica.org.

To read more about Smiles Across America, go to Smiles Across America.

To comment on this topic, go to community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/.

References available upon request from company.