Big Smiles dental health program visits Clarkson Elementary;
50 students treated
Clarkson Elementary students have brighter smiles after visiting with the dental team of “Big Smiles,” as many students took advantage of in school screenings and preventive care program held at the school Feb. 8 - 10.
According to the Big Smiles program, “Dental care remains the greatest unmet health need among U.S. children. Over 50 percent of children have a cavity, resulting in lost school days. Dental problems negatively affect school attendance and performance.”
Big Smiles is a national outreach program helping to promote dental care in a location that is easily accessible for families to utilize during the regular school day. Children often feel more comfortable and less anxious in the familiar surroundings of their school.
Ann Brooks, Clarkson Family Resource Center Coordinator, explained the need for the program at Clarkson Elementary saying that, “For the past few years, I saw a trend in our needs assessment survey, in which up to 43 percent of all families polled stated their child did not receive an annual dental check up.”
Also, the Kentucky Health Facts report further supported that need, reporting that “As of 2016, 32 percent of all Grayson County adults reported six or more permanent teeth being removed because of tooth decay or gum disease.”
In recognizing the need, Brooks began looking for programs that could provide in-school services.
“I learned of the Big Smiles program at a state-wide conference a few years ago and kept the contact information,” Brooks said.
Children were seen during the regular school hours as the dental team provided exams, x-rays, cleaning, sealants, as well as fillings. Follow-up care plans were made for students that needed additional care.
Overall, the dentist provided care to 50 students, filling 76 cavities and saving an estimated 105 days of school absences. The Big Smiles program served children covered by Passport, through private pay or insurance, and through a grant in which the parents were not billed for services.