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Free dental care Saturday at the Heath Department

Caitlin Nearhood • Aug 27, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Children in Erie County can receive quality treatment at no cost and come out with squeaky-clean teeth.

The Erie County Health Department will provide free dental care Saturday, June 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at the department’s Dental Clinic for infants through 18-year-olds who don’t have a dentist and/or are uninsured for dental care. Parents or a legal guardian must go with the child or children to complete and sign the health history and consent form to get the free services.

Erie County Health Department commissioner Pete Schade is eager for the yearly event.

“It’s a good program,” Schade said. “We want to guide kids in the right direction of oral care.”

The program has been going strong for two years as the event has partnered with the health department.

Schade knows the importance of making a valuable service known to the public.

“You have to reach out and market what you have to give,” he said.

The clinic emphasizes proper brushing frequency and technique and the importance of flossing and rinsing, crucial components of keeping pristine oral health. Common problems encountered every year include cavities and poor practices. Occasionally, a tooth needs to be pulled.

Not only does the program give free dental exams, cleanings and preventive care like fluoride treatment and sealants, it strives to educate its young patients about healthy habits and overall healthy lifestyle.

“We teach them about proper nutrition, about candy and the kinds of candy. But it’s not like we don’t want them to have fun,” he said. “It’s an all-around educational approach.”

Dentists and volunteers also inform the patients about the effects of smoking on the mouth.

Even though the program is available for only three hours Saturday, dentists and volunteers will still help those still left.

“We’ll get them in the system,” he said. “We’ll take care of everyone that shows up and makes appointments.”

Schade said that the health department receives a reimbursement from Medicaid to run the clinic.

“The services may cost $500 dollars, but since there is a need in the community, we want to take care of it,” he said.

Three area dentists and several volunteers participate in the program and seem to enjoy helping out.

“It gives them a chance at a fresh approach in their career,” he said. “They get a lot out of it.”

When all is said and done, they experience the fruits of their labor when past patients of the clinic visit and remember what they were told to keep their teeth clean and healthy.

“If we can get the kids to practice these habits, it’ll save the community in the long run,” he said.

The clinic wants to become a mobile clinic in the near future to reach even more people than in previous years. 

Want to go?

What: Free dental care for children ages 0-18 years old whose families have no dentist and/or are uninsured for dental care. A parent or legal guardian must accompany their child(ren) to the clinic. Children will be seen on a walk-in, first come, first served basis.

Where: Erie County Health Department, 420 Superior St, Sandusky, Ohio

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 7

More: For more information, call (419)-626-5623, ext. 218. 

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