Dental care remains the largest unmet health care need for Ohio’s children, regardless of race or ethnicity according to the 2008 Ohio Family Health Survey. The downturn of the economy, with lost jobs and lost benefits, has hit Ottawa County especially hard for several years. Dental care is often the first area of need that is forfeited when financial resources are scarce.
Serving people with limited resources is the mission of the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio. Established in 1910 by a group of Toledo dentists, the Dental Center of Northwest Ohio takes pride in providing quality dental care for people of all ages with limited incomes. The Dental Center is a not-for-profit agency with a mission that includes prevention of oral diseases as well as treatment.
Beginning this month, the Dental Center is sponsoring Port Clinton Smiles! at the elementary and middle schools. This program, funded in part by the Delta Dental Foundation, will provide preventive and restorative dental care to those with access barriers as well as to increase awareness and the intrinsic value of a healthy smile, provide home care oral hygiene supplies and education.
Children in grades K-8 will learn age-appropriate topics such as proper brushing and flossing techniques, the danger of tobacco use and soda pop consumption, the importance of good nutrition, and the use of mouth guards. Education teams of dental hygienists and dental assistants will be visiting the schools mid-month.
After the students learn about healthy habits, they will be able to have dental check-ups and any needed treatment completed their school as well. With its headquarters in Toledo, the Dental Center is able to provide dental care to Port Clinton with the Smile Express, a mobile dental office. This 40-foot motor coach is a two operatory dental office complete with its own digital x-ray equipment, water supply and generator. Licensed dentists and dental hygienists provide dental cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings and extractions.
Due to the requests for dental services for adults, the Smile Express will be staying after the regular school hours to be available for anyone who meets the eligibility guidelines. The first scheduled day for the Smile Express is Tuesday, Feb. 28. The children will be scheduled during the school day by the school nurse, Angela Reineck. Any county resident interested in scheduling an appointment after school hours can do so by calling the Dental Center toll free at1-866-378-6965.
Persons with income at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible to take advantage of the services. The Dental Center accepts most dental insurances, including Medicaid and Medicaid HMOs. Reduced fees are available for people without dental insurance. Uninsured children can be seen for $25 per appointment. Uninsured adults are charged a reduced fee.
Individuals who need emergency care who do not have dental insurance or the funds to pay for treatment are encouraged to call. The Ottawa County Community Foundation awarded the Dental Center a grant to cover emergency care for those who qualify. These funds can be used either at the Toledo area clinic or at the Smile Express while in Port Clinton.