For a 10th year the Norman Regional Health System, the Norman Regional Health Foundation, Moore Norman Technology Center’s Dental Assisting class and Norman Public Schools have partnered to identify and treat hundreds of children who are most in need of dental care through the Give Kids a Smile program. Today 25 children received x-rays, cleanings and sealants inside MNTC’s Dental Assisting lab.
The grant this year has expanded, allowing 50 children from multiple NPS elementary schools to receive oral care, along with an increase in the number of days for treatment.
The Give Kids a Smile project was made possible through a $2,500 grant provided by Delta Dental of Oklahoma Oral Health Foundation through the Norman Regional Health Foundation. The first treatment date was January inside MNTC’s Dental Assisting lab area, with three dates following in February and March.
Dentists who volunteered their time to the project are: Dr. Tenille Cheek-Covey, Precision Dental; Dr. Joey Fleming, Dental Edge; Dr. Barrett Hall, Oklahoma Family Dentistry; Dr. Brett Leemaster, Smile Solutions; Dr. Derek Mask, Mask Dental and Drs. Sara Spurlock and Susan Whiteneck, Dental Design Studio.
Executive Director of NRHF Erin Barnhart said, “The goal of this program is to reach children that may otherwise never see a dentist. Norman Public Schools does an incredible job of identifying children who are candidates for dental cleanings, sealants and more extensive work. If we can take the dental pain away from one child or help one child understand the importance of oral health then this program is a success.
“This is a true community partnership and we know the need is so great,” she continued. “We decided to expand the scope by asking dentists to provide more extensive services, such as extractions. We added three days this year for these services. Without our local dentists and the Delta Dental Foundation’s financial support, this program would not exist.”
The process began in November as students at each elementary school in Norman received a basic oral screening to identify visually obvious dental needs. Recommendations then went home with children indicating that their assessment was either normal, required dental care, or that serious dental care was needed. Based on these results children were identified as in need of either preventative or restorative care.
NPS Health Services Coordinator Beth Roberson, Tonnie Dosser with NRHF Grants & Donor Relations, NRHS Community Health & Wellness Coordinator Stephanie McGinnis and MNTC Dental Assisting Instructor Bridgette Cannon worked together to solidify the grant, personnel and logistics to make the treatment days run smoothly for the children.
Roberson said, “We are so fortunate to be in a community that values innovative partnerships. This collaboration supports our goal to provide equitable health services and access to extensive dental care to children who need it most.”
MNTC provided the dental care setting complete with industry-standard dental office tools, chairs, overhead lighting and materials for direct patient care. As an added bonus, MNTC also provided dental assisting students who are in their last semester before graduation and who are prepared for the dental industry workforce.
Cannon said, “The children come to Moore Norman where, under the direct supervision of a dentist, our students take X-rays and polish and place sealant on the children. This is such a wonderful program and an amazing way for us to give to our community. You can just see the excitement on the children’s faces and I’m so proud that Moore Norman participates in this program in the way that we do,” said Cannon.
Details about the Norman Regional Health Foundation may be found at nrhfoundation.org. Information about the Delta Dental Oral Health Foundation may be found at ddokfoundation.org. Learn about MNTC’s Dental Assisting program at mntc.edu.
by Anna Aguilar, APR