Free dental exams, preventative tooth care, and more
Several outreach programs in Polk County recently offered free dental exams and other tooth services to spread awareness about the need for dental health care. At the Haines City Dental Clinic, the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk) offered free comprehensive dental exams to children on Feb. 7, which was Give Kids a Smile Day. This event also honored February being National Children’s Dental Health Month.
The event wasn’t just about providing services to children— it was about teaching the benefits of preventative tooth care, according to Scott Sjoblom, the public information officer for the FDOH-Polk. “One of the things that we’ve realized is that good dental health and hygiene is a marker for health not only in kids, but in adults as well,” Sjoblom says. “So doing some preventative work when kids are young really helps to set them up for a healthier lifestyle down the road.”
The FDOH-Polk offers many more programs like this one, according to Administrator for the Dental Division for FDOH-Polk Susan McPhail-Taylor. These programs include second-grade dental check-ups in more than 50 schools and dental exam days at Boys and Girls Club locations. The FDOH-Polk has also provided dental exams to almost 200 children at Haitian churches in Polk County. “There’s such a great correlation between dental health and medical health,” McPhail-Taylor explains. “For me, from my background in nursing, it’s been an eye-opening experience in the need for dental care, especially for children.”
There are few dental services available to underserved communities in Polk County, reports McPhail-Taylor, and undocumented families have almost no access to dental health care. These types of programs offer much-needed exams and checkups for those families.
A separate project, called the Healthy Mouth Movement, pairs up Danica Patrick, Aspen Dental, and Oral Health America to take on lacking teeth care. The Aspen Dental offices in Lake Wales were among the 25 Aspen offices offering free dental care on February 15 to all who made appointments. During the event, dentists helped fix patients’ most urgent needs— including basic cleaning, filling, extraction, and denture repair. In addition to Aspen Dental offering a free Day of Service, HMM also employs the MouthMobile, which is a bus that includes a mobile dentist’s office.
According to the project, nearly 100 million Americans failed to get a dental check-up last year, and the HMM aims to provide more attainable services to thousands of people across the United States. HMM also aims to educate the public on the importance of taking care of their teeth.
story by KELSEY TRESSLER