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Smile Center, schools get grant for dental care

The Rowan County Smile Center, in partnership with Rowan-Salisbury Schools, has received a $102,848 grant from the N.C. Office of Rural Health to implement a preventive oral health initiative that includes education, dental screenings, sealants and outreach for the 2017-18 school year.

The grant also will be used to provide treatment to students who would otherwise not be able to afford dental care.

A 2015 Delta Dental study found that in the South, 33 percent of parents said their children missed school because of dental problems.

Recent statistics show that 21 percent of Rowan County kindergartners have untreated dental decay. The statewide rate is 13 percent.

“We are honored and appreciative of the funding that was awarded by the Office of Rural Health. We are looking forward to continued collaboration with the Rowan County school system to implement preventative oral health programs in the schools. This will increase dental access and decrease dental inequities which will improve overall county health and oral health outcomes,” said Nina Oliver, public health director for the Rowan County Health Department.

Last school year, the Smile Center provided dental screenings for children at Millbridge Elementary and Granite Quarry Elementary schools. In addition, the Smile Center conducted its first sealant project in partnership with the N.C. Oral Health Section at Millbridge Elementary for third-graders.

The Smile Center’s public health dental hygienist will collaborate with school nurses by providing education on how to assess dental concerns of students.

“We are excited about our continued partnership with the Rowan County Health Department. We know that by improving dental care for our students, we will improve school attendance and school performance,” said Carol Ann Houpe, director of student services for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

The mission of the Rowan County Smile Center is to provide compassionate and quality dental care to all children. It also helps families develop good oral health habits and prevent dental problems. Located in the county Health Department, the office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, with a lunch break from 1 to 2 p.m.

The Smile Center provides dental care to children who are 17 and younger and is the only clinic in Rowan County that offers a sliding-scale fee for children regardless of income.

For more information, call the Smile Center at 704-216-8796.

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