Smile Savers Year End Report
The Lawrence County Smile Savers Coalition was developed as the result of a 2010 grant presented to the county by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The goal of the coalition is to provide dental health education, resulting in good oral health care and increased routine visits with our dedicated local dentists. Smile Savers was formed in September, 2010 and includes members from various interest groups including medical, dental, educational, media and faith-based organizations.
The Smile Savers Coalition began the 2011-2012 school year with free dental screenings in each of the four county elementary schools.
Three dentist members of the Smile Savers coalition donated time at the schools’ Readi-Fests, to make sure children had an opportunity for dental screenings before school began. More than 70 children were screened, and several were referred to their family dentists for problems that were discovered.
For the older students, information was presented at the ninth-grade Open House at the beginning of the school year. After classes had begun, a presentation was made to each of the five ninth-grade Health/Physical Education classes of teacher Richard Lambert at the Lawrence County High School. Information on good dental health was presented to nearly 125 students, as well as distribution of a listing of the local dentists with their complete contact information.
Announcement was made to the ninth grade students of a contest entitled “Keep Your 32”, which provided the opportunity for each student to win a teeth-whitening kit by simply seeing their dentist twice in the following year and presenting a form signed by their dentist verifying that the student was eligible for the contest award. One young lady followed through with the contest and was awarded a teeth-whitening kit along with a number of other oral hygiene products.
The Smile Savers Coalition was honored with an invitation to present at the annual ARC Conference at Jenny Wiley State Park in September, 2011.
An overview of the accomplishments up to that point was made, along with hopes and plans for the future. The “dental personality” Mojo was a part of the presentation and was well received by the group.
“Mojo” is used in partnership with the Lawrence County Public Library Children’s Librarian Deanna Nelson and is housed there, available for check-out by any group wishing to do oral health presentations. Mojo has been borrowed by a total of six different groups in the last six months.
Dr. Charles Sammons, one of the dentist members of the coalition, also took part in the Lawrence County Health Action Team’s “Health and Wellness Expo”, in March, 2012. Along with Pat Machir of the Health Department, oral health information was presented to visitors to the Expo, with emphasis on preventing “baby bottle teeth” and “Mountain Dew mouth”. Visitors were presented free toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. On-the-spot dental screens by Dr. Sammons were also available for the attendees.
In June, Dr. Sammons made a presentation to the “Living with Diabetes” support group, which meets monthly at the Cooperative Extension Service building. His program was on good oral health care and diabetes, followed by a question and answer period.
Plans are being made for free dental screens again this year at the elementary school Readi-Fests, beginning in early July.
Plans were made to have dental screenings for the ninth grade students of Mr. Lambert during class periods, but due to time constraints toward the end of the school year, this program did not happen. It is still the hope of the coalition to be able to provide free screenings for the ninth grade Health classes in the coming school year.
Other plans for the future, when funding is released, include purchase of another dental personality for use in the Health Department office and at local community events.
The Lawrence County Smile Savers coalition is extremely grateful to Drs. Lee Arrington, Charles Sammons and Brian Wallace for their support and donation of time and talent in reaching out to the unserved and underserved children of Lawrence County. We also appreciate the extensive coverage of all the Smile Saver’s events by Mark Grayson, editor of The Levisa Lazer.