2006-12-07 / Front Page

'Help a Child Smile' mobile unit provides dental services at LCES

The "Help a Child Smile" mobile dental unit visited LCES on Monday, December 4. Of the new patients seen by the HCS staff, over 50 percent have never been treated by a dentist. The "Help a Child Smile" mobile dental unit visited LCES on Monday, December 4. Of the new patients seen by the HCS staff, over 50 percent have never been treated by a dentist. The smiles of LCES students are brighter than ever, thanks to a visit from the "Help a Child Smile (HCS)" mobile dental unit Monday, December 4.

At the urging of Lincoln County Family Connection, a survey was recently distributed to Lincoln County parents to identify the potential oral health care needs of students at all three schools. In response to the results of the survey and in cooperation with the Lincoln County Board of Education, the Help a Child Smile program is being offered for the first time in Lincoln County.

The first school on the list was LCES.

"Through this program, we can reach children who do not have a private dentist," said Nancy Blount, Family Connection coordinator. "When a child's teeth are hurting, he doesn't do his best in school. It is important that we try to address this health issue in our community."

She reported that her office received over 60 applications for the Help a Child Smile program from LCES alone.

LCES nurse Melynda Poss is shown testing the X-ray machine in the "Help a Child Smile" mobile dental unit which visited the school on Monday. She is pictured here with X-ray technician Gary Albritten. LCES nurse Melynda Poss is shown testing the X-ray machine in the "Help a Child Smile" mobile dental unit which visited the school on Monday. She is pictured here with X-ray technician Gary Albritten. In other comments, Blount said, "With truancy being such an issue, the program will save children from having to miss school for half a day or a whole day to go to the dentist. It will also save their parents from having to miss work, especially those who work out of town."

The mobile dental program offers comprehensive dentistry to children who have limited or no access to oral health care. Of the new patients seen by the HCS staff, over 50 percent have never been treated by a dentist.

By offering a "dental home" to children who do not have one, Help a Child Smile works in cooperation with other health care providers to raise the overall level of oral health care in the county.

The program accepts Medicaid, PeachCare, Amerigroup, PeachState, WellCare, and most other insurance plans.

Help a Child Smile was founded by Dr. Mark Shurett in 1993. HCS mobile units currently visit schools in 56 Georgia counties, serving over 7,000 children each month.

Unlike many programs of this type, which offer only screenings and referrals, HCS provides comprehensive dental care, including X-rays, fluoride treatments, sealants, comprehensive exams, and fillings, using composite materials. All of this is done while the mobile office is parked at the school.

In fact, the mobile units are equipped identically to Dr. Shurett's family practice office in Conyers. Each full-service dental office is staffed with one licensed dentist, one registered hygienist, two assistants, one mobile manager, and one X-ray technician.

To keep parents informed of their child's progress, a copy of the "Dental Work Completed Report" is given to each child to take home and another copy is mailed to the patient's parents or guardian the next day.

However, the Help a Child program is more than just comprehensive dentistry. By its very nature, the program, with its systematic recall system and twice-daily brushing and flossing instructions, helps students establish dental health routines. Once formed, these routines can last a lifetime as well as carry forward to the next generation.

One of the program's goals is to produce a friendly, educational, and fun environment for its patients. This environment then creates a lifelong impression on its young patients and breaks down the negative mental barriers associated with visiting both dental and medical offices for periodic care.

In addition to dental care, the Help a Child Smile program also provides educational services to schools, including participation in school health fairs, teaching dental health to students in small group settings, and distributing educational materials that instruct children and their parents in the methods of proper oral health care.

Those desiring more information about HCS or those who did not receive a registration form for the program may contact Help a Child Smile at 1-770-790-7900 or visit the following website: .

The mission statement of the Help a Child Smile program is "To provide comprehensive oral health care to Georgia's children, especially those who otherwise would not have the opportunity to visit a dentist, utilizing teamwork, compassion, and innovative delivery of service, all within a working environment emphasizing fair and ethical treatment of all."

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