March 2019 Volume LIV Number 2

 
 
 
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First Dental Home Day Brings HSHC Mission to Orlando

September 2013 Volume XLIX Number 5

Parents and patients alike were all smiles following the first annual Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children Dental Home Day, held May 22 at the Orange Blossom Family Health Center in Orlando and sponsored by Sunstar Americas, Inc. Forty AAPD members and affiliated volunteers from across the country helped provide free dental care to 91 homeless children during Dental Home Day, to be held each year during the AAPD Annual Session.
 

Dental Home Day is unlike other dental service days because participating patients will receive ongoing care supported by HSHC Access to Care Grants. Orange Blossom received a total of $45,000 in grants to help provide Dental Homes to participating patients for the next 12 months.

"We're grateful to Sunstar for their generous support of Dental Home Day," said HSHC President Dr. Beverly Largent. "We're also grateful to AAPD members who not only volunteered at Dental Home Day, but also contributed an additional $10,000 to support the kids' ongoing care. It was an amazing day."

HSHC Immediate Past President Dr. David Curtis, who helped develop Dental Home Day during his final year as HSHC president, credited the event for its potential to reach children and their parents.

"Children that have tooth decay in kindergarten can't learn, can't eat and can't sleep, so HSHC's goal is to see that every child has a Dental Home by the time they get to kindergarten," Curtis said. That sentiment resonated with many Dental Home Day parents.

"For [the kids] to get the knowledge that they got here about cleaning their teeth, flossing, not drinking so much soda ¼ you couldn't ask for more," said Kyle Tucker, whose daughter Makayla was a Dental Home Day patient. "I wish they'd have had this when I was a kid because I would have better teeth. Most of my pain throughout my life was tooth pain. One thing I want for my child is for her not to feel the pain that I felt."

"It's probably been the best experience I've had with the dentist, ever," Tucker said. "Everybody was helpful and very polite. I couldn't have asked for better."

Alicia Tucker, Makayla's mom, agreed: "The dentists took the time to get to know her, explain the tools they were using in her mouth, showing her fun ways to clean her mouth and make it a life-changing thing." 

Makayla received a complete exam, X-rays, a restoration, and was scheduled for a six-month follow up. "Then they gave her a nice little care package, which was awfully sweet of them," her mom said.

Relieving their child's pain and discomfort was a recurring theme among Dental Home Day parents. Tony Lewis and Heather Greene, whose son Caleb had a supernumerary tooth that was extracted during his Dental Home Day visit, found the Orange Blossom clinic by chance.

"We were driving by and we saw the sign saying they were doing dental work for children. My son had an extra tooth growing in front and I've been trying for three months to find someone to take care of it," said Caleb's mom.

Caleb's dad, who actually was seeking dental services for himself when he and his wife saw the Dental Home Day signs, was happy to "wait another day or two" so his son could receive treatment.

"We came in, my son was able to play around a little bit, he got a balloon and the dentists here were very nice and very appreciative of us for coming in," Lewis said. "[The pediatric dentists] were grateful to see us come here."

Dental Home Day provides an opportunity for the Academy to give back to its Annual Session host city. Patients received preventive and restorative services, oral health instruction, and home care kits, courtesy of Sunstar. Home care kits also were provided to adults accompanying Dental Home Day patients.

Through May 2014, the Orange Blossom dental team will report quarterly to HSHC the number of children returning for restorative, preventive and other appointments. They'll also track incidences where siblings of Dental Home Day patients seek care at the clinic and track those children who don't return or have sporadic follow up visits.

"We have a growing clinic patient base and Dental Home Day provided a great opportunity to reach children currently not receiving care," said Orange Blossom dentist Dr. Meghan Keskar. "It also helped us shine a light on the year-round need we have in our community."

Plans for Dental Home Day during the 2014 AAPD Annual Session in Boston are underway. HSHC issued requests for proposal to qualified agencies and will announce the selected clinic or agency by the end of the year.

"Our first Dental Home Day taught us a lot," said Dr. Cavan Brunsden, Dental Home Day national volunteer coordinator. "Volunteers were so energized by the experience we're channeling their enthusiasm into making Boston an even greater success."

Parents, too, were energized by the dedication of the participating pediatric dentists - especially those from around the country who delayed their enjoyment of the Florida sun by one day.

"It's amazing," said one Dental Home Day mom. "The dentists were doing something for nothing, just for the good of others around them."

Please send any Dental Home Day inquiries to dentalhomeday@aapd.org.