Photo reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Throughout February (for National Children’s Dental Health Month), OneWorld dental clinics have been providing free preventive dental care to uninsured children (ages 1-18). Parents and guardians are able to schedule appointments for their children at OneWorld’s Livestock Exchange Building campus, OneWorld Bellevue, OneWorld Northwest and OneWorld West until the designated 300 appointment slots are filled.

The dental teams are providing dental exams, radiographs, cleanings and first molar sealants free of charge, and they are helping any first-time patients establish OneWorld as their dental home.

According to OneWorld Dental Director Dr. Brian Penly, the month-long event approach allowed for more children to receive personalized care, since traditional one-day events only allow 50-100 children to receive basic services.

“By running Give Kids a Smile every day through the month of February, our goal was to give each kid their own prescheduled appointment slot where our team could focus on the very core of oral health problems, education and prevention,” Dr. Penly said. “As the event runs 28 days, we have the ability to provide a valuable roadmap to optimal oral health for parents while, at the same time, providing hygiene and prevention services, such as sealants and fluoride varnish. Our team has been working with each parent to get children back with providers so that we take care of the complete treatment plan, not just a solo service.”

Dr. Penly estimated that a full appointment (in which the child receives all the services offered) would cost OneWorld about $500, so during the month-long Give Kids a Smile event, OneWorld was prepared to provide up to $150,000 in services to children in the community. According to the dentists involved with Give Kids a Smile, that cost is well worth it to see firsthand what it means to families when their children are given dental care that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

“The first week of the program, we saw a family consisting of four children without insurance and access to care,” Dr. Penly said. “The two-year-old child needed several restorations and four extractions due to severe early childhood caries. The siblings…each required extensive treatment including extractions, stainless steel crowns and restorations.”

The family was able to work with the dental team at the clinic they chose, and the youngest child was able to receive needed additional services for a nominal fee. The dental team then worked with OneWorld’s Care Mobile team to provide care for the siblings.

“The cost of services for treatment would exceed $10,000 for these four children,” Dr. Penly said. “We are proud that we could step in and make a difference for those in need.”

Dr. Joy Judalena, another OneWorld dentist, said that one seven-year-old boy she saw during Give Kids a Smile was experiencing a lot of pain with a baby tooth, and she was able to determine that the tooth was severely decayed and infected—only the roots of the tooth remained.

“The tooth needed immediate extraction, and Dr. Penly allowed me to provide the service at no charge for this young patient the same day,” she said. “I was proud of the patient for being extremely brave during the extraction. He was happy that we were able to take out his tooth so that he would not have any more pain.”

According to Dr. Judalena, tooth pain can cause difficulty eating, poor performance in school and missed school, so addressing the patient’s pain was an important part of his appointment.

“Give Kids a Smile allowed the patient much-needed services he would not otherwise receive,” she said. “I am humbled to serve these patients.”

Another dentist, Dr. Elisa Wiest, saw similar situations at OneWorld Bellevue during the Give Kids a Smile event. She saw one young girl who came in for a routine polishing, but during that appointment, it became apparent that she would need more thorough care.

“She received all the care that we could provide through this Give Kids a Smile event,” Dr. Wiest said. “I’m so thankful that we were able to provide all of this care at no cost to a patient who really needed it.”

At press time in mid-February, OneWorld dental clinics had cared for 167 children through the Give Kids a Smile event, and another 112 children had appointments scheduled in the remainder of the month. To learn more about OneWorld’s dental services, please visit http://bit.ly/OWDental.

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