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Sweetwater students will now have a new reason to display their showcase smile.
With the help of Molly Thomas, SISD head nurse, a new program will be rolling into town to help kids receive adequate dental care. All Smiles, a group based out of Dallas, will be stationed at various Sweetwater schools. The company launched their Traveling Miles for Smiles campaign in 2004 in an effort to assist schools, organizations and parents invest in their child's health with on-site dental care.
Seeing the great need of a lack in dental care among students, Thomas stated that the program has been in consideration for some time. The original concept was intended with only the elementary schools in mind, yet Thomas noted that she began to see a need in the high school of students who made their last visit to the dentist around seven or eight years ago.
Students will receive forms to introduce parents to the All Smiles program. Parents can then give their child permission to receive the initial exam and will also help parents determine if they qualify for insurance such as Chips and Medicaid. Forms will need to be submitted by Jan. 31.
The cost for the exam, cleaning, x-rays and fluoride is offered at a discount rate of $99.50. All Smiles also accepts Medicaid, Chips and private insurance. However, any co-pays will have to be sent with student on the day of the visit. Parents will be notified if a co-pay is needed.
From Feb. 16-18, two vans will be parked at schools to offer teeth cleaning, x-rays and fluoride treatments. The locations of where the vans will be stationed will be determined based on each school's need. Each mobile unit has about three rooms, and parents are invited to be with their child during the visit. However, only one parent per child is allowed in the van due to the small space; parents are not allowed during an x-ray due to safely concerns.
Dentists will look at each student's teeth and will then go home with a Patient Evaluation Form, stating the student's dental needs and any kind of treatment that is necessary. On the 18th, procedures such as cavity fills will be performed on students who need it. From that point on, the All Smiles vans will come into town every six months.
Should there be any student that needs any type of dental surgery, he will be referred to a local dentist. Thomas is hoping to work with local organizations to receive financial assistance for those who qualify. Donations will also be accepted to help those who may not have the funds or parents who have multiple children with dental needs.
In the past year, All Smiles has performed dental care equaling to $120,000 for free. Several area school districts have joined forces with All Smiles, boasting high praise for the Traveling Miles for Smiles program.
"It's going to be a lot of work," says Thomas about the program. However, she is optimistic and excited to see the results that come from the campaign. Thomas is also asking for parent volunteers to help on Feb. 16-18, to usher students to and from the classroom to the van. If you would like to help, contact Thomas at 235-7740.