Smiles Across Minnesota Expands Program to Moorhead

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School-Based Dental Program Targets Elementary School and Head Start Children

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We are pleased to help bring this important program to Moorhead schools as it aligns with our focus on helping youth and children succeed.

Smiles Across Minnesota expands its statewide preventive dental program to the Moorhead School District on Thursday, March 10th during a press conference at 2pm in the board room at the Probstfield Center for Education (2410 14th Street South, Moorhead). The program will help improve the oral health of uninsured and underinsured children. Smiles Across Minnesota provides children ages three to 12 with preventive dental services – including cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants – right within the schools at no cost to the schools.

“We are pleased to help bring this important program to Moorhead schools as it aligns with our focus on helping youth and children succeed,” said Dr. Lynne Kovash, Superintendent, Moorhead School District. “When Children’s Dental Services and Delta Dental of Minnesota introduced the Smiles Across Minnesota program to us, we realized it fit a strong need of our communities as on average 40% of our children are eligible to receive these services. Children need to be able to attend school at their healthiest to increase their potential for learning.”    

Dental services will be offered to all students at participating schools and administered by a local dental hygienist and dental assistant employed by Children’s Dental Services. “Preventive measures, such as education, sealants and fluoride treatments, have a long-term impact on a child’s future dental health and well-being,” explains Sarah Wovcha, executive director of Children’s Dental Services and co-chair of Smiles Across Minnesota. “Community based programs are cost-effective. Children receiving dental sealants in school-based programs have 60 percent less decay for up to five years. We anticipate serving 500-800 children in the first year.”

Children’s Dental Services will provide care for children on public assistance. Uninsured students who are income-eligible will receive free care through the program, paid for by charitable corporate and foundation contributions. If a family already has commercial insurance, those children and their parents will be encouraged to visit their previously established dental home. If they do not have a primary dentist, children will be referred either to a local dentist or the family will be assisted in finding appropriate services. All children receiving care will need parental consent.

Smiles Across Minnesota provides preventive dental services at no cost to the child or school. To date, Delta Dental of Minnesota has provided nearly $500,000 to support Smiles Across Minnesota sites, including $20,000 in start-up funding for Moorhead. The Medica Foundation has pledged an additional $100,000 and United Way of Cass-Clay an additional $30,000 for three years of sustaining funding. Dakota Medical Foundation has also generously committing funding and providing local support for the successful launch of a program in the region.

“As the state’s largest dental benefits administrator – we are extremely pleased to see the problems of dentally uninsured and underserved children being acknowledged as an important unmet healthcare need,” said Ann Johnson, executive director of Delta Dental of Minnesota Trust and co-chair of Smiles Across Minnesota. “In addition, to providing start-up funding, we are also pleased to partner with both national and local organizations that are deeply committed to improving the health of underserved children — Oral Health America and United Way of Cass-Clay. In addition, Medica Foundation and Dakota Medical Foundation are generously providing funds to sustain the program.”

“United Way of Cass-Clay is proud to collaborate with Moorhead Public Schools, Children’s Dental Services, Delta Dental and Oral Health America to invest in the Smiles Across Minnesota program. Improving the oral health of children in our community is a piece of United Way of Cass-Clay’s strategy to help children and youth achieve their full potential through education and improving our communities’ on-time graduation rates. By investing in this program, United Way of Cass-Clay is helping to provide preventive dental services to children and removing financial and transportation-related barriers that relate to school success,” said Kristina Hein, Marketing & Brand Management Director of United Way of Cass-Clay.

“Smiles Across Minnesota is a model Smiles Across America® program partner, demonstrating how to successfully collaborate with communities and expand services, while identifying needs and eliminating barriers to oral health care and education throughout the state,” said Beth Truett, President and CEO of Oral Health America.

About Children’s Dental Services – CDS is an independent, non-profit that has provided dental services to children since 1919. CDS is the only Minnesota agency dedicated exclusively to providing oral health outreach, education, preventive and restorative treatment to children. During its history CDS pioneered two major concepts for making affordable dental care accessible to children: 1) CDS was the first dental program in the nation to provide on-site dental care to Head Start children; and 2) CDS provides full on-site mobile preventive and restorative care to children in schools and community based settings. CDS provides dental care to children, birth to age 21 and pregnant women. CDS offers a sliding fee scale under which reduced-cost or free care is provided. CDS employs staff who collectively speak 15 different languages, making them well equipped to serve bilingual or multilingual families.

About Delta Dental of Minnesota – An independent, non-profit health services company, we take seriously our mission to serve Minnesotans’ oral health needs. Since 1969, we’ve accomplished this mission by providing the best access across the state to oral health care through affordable dental plans. We also know the importance of doing right by the communities we serve. We’ve partnered with community organizations and social service agencies to address the dental needs of Minnesota’s underserved and uninsured populations. In 2010, we contributed more than $850,000 in grants and donations to support a range of programs addressing oral health and community needs. Delta Dental of Minnesota is based in Eagan, Minnesota. Delta Dental is a registered mark of Delta Dental Plans Association. Delta Dental of Minnesota is an independent nonprofit dental services company and is an authorized licensee of the Delta Dental Plans Association of Oak Brook, Illinois.

About United Way of Cass-Clay – The mission of United Way of Cass-Clay is to bring people together to create lasting change that will improve lives. In 2010, United Way of Cass-Clay raised more than $5 million to invest in programs, agencies and initiatives throughout Cass County, North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota. Currently, United Way of Cass-Clay invests in 42 local non-profit agencies, 66 programs, and education-based initiatives including Success By 6, an early childhood development and education initiative. Last year more than 140,000 local men, women and children were positively impacted by the work of United Way of Cass-Clay. For more information, visit http://www.unitedwaycassclay.org.

About Smiles Across America® (SAA)– SAA is a signature program of Oral Health America, a national non-profit organization dedicated to changing lives by connecting communities with resources to increase access to care, education and advocacy. SAA improves the health of elementary school students by supporting oral disease prevention services in school-based or school-linked settings, and demonstrating to communities that healthy mouths are integral to overall health. For more information, visit http://www.oralhealthamerica.org.

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