Four local dentists donated their services recently as part of “Smiling Faces Donated Dental Days.” It was sponsored by HALO Project, a healthy community initiative sponsored by Presence United Samaritans Medical Center’s Foundation, in partnership with local dentists and other community partners.
Dr. Michael Fuesting participated in June, and Dr. Phillip Conn, Dr. George Zundo and Dr. Jane Cooney donated their services in July.
Forty children received X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, extractions, fillings and root canals, as appropriate. Each child received a goody bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and an instruction sheet on proper oral hygiene. Mr. Gross Mouth and Mr. Clean Mouth were present for hands-on, healthy dental education and many children practiced brushing and flossing on both while waiting to see the dentist.
All four dentists schedule a day when they close their office to the public and provide donated dental services only to those children who do not have access to or who cannot afford dental care. The office runs as it normally would, with staff working all areas of their normal duties.
The dentists complete as much dental work as possible for every child they see as they understand the hardship that costly dental procedures can cause to a family’s budget.
“They aren’t just doing one filling and calling that donated dental,” said Kathy Richard, director of HALO Project. “Many children leave these dentists with all dental work completed that needed to be done, which in some instances is a root canal, or several teeth extracted, or many teeth filled. Their goal is to make the child’s mouth as healthy as possible in one visit.”
HALO Project recruits the children who receive services from those children identified as needing restorative dental care through the District District 118 Sealant Program.
The “dental van,” provided by the Danville YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of Danville, pick up the children and their guardian at their home, drop them off at the dentist office, and then return them to their home after treatment.
“We are so grateful that the extended community supports HALO Project and the dentists in this very important endeavor,” Richard said. “The YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club provide a vital service for the success of the Smiling Faces Donated Dental Days program by removing the ‘no transportation’ barrier.’”
Student nurses from Danville Area Community College of Nursing and Lakeview College of Nursing are also present to observe at chair side and to learn about oral health from the dentists.
Community volunteers are present to assist with greeting the children and their guardians as they arrive, helping with consent form completion, being a navigation guide on the pick-up bus, doing oral hygiene education, and helping to calm those children who are just a little nervous.
“Community volunteers are the backbone to any non-profit program and our community volunteers are outstanding. They never hesitate to assist with any task and always go beyond what is asked of them,” Richard said.
“I really appreciate all the hard work that the HALO Project and the volunteers did at organizing and coordinating this event. They allowed us to concentrate all of our time and effort on helping the children,” Dr. Michael Fuesting said.
“It is always great for members of the Danville District Dental Society to help the local population with dental treatment. The patients are all very happy and thankful for getting the work done,” Dr. George Zundo said.
For more information about Smiling Faces Dental Days or the HALO Project, call Kathy at 442-6587 or visit presencehealth.org/halo.
Local dentists will provide dental screenings at the Children’s Health Safety & Activity Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Village Mall in Danville.
The dental screening will satisfy all Vermilion County school districts’ dental screening requirement for children in kindergarten, second, and sixth grades. Forms will be completed and given to the parent/guardian at the time of the screening. Parents/guardians must accompany children.