NOV. 12, 2004 | Smiles got brighter for children in six Little Rock schools with the recent dedication of the Future Smiles Dental Health Clinic at Wakefield Elementary, the first elementary school-based dental clinic in Arkansas.
The new clinic, which will serve about 2,000 children in Little Rock schools, is sponsored by the Dental Health Action Team, which includes: the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Share America, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Department of Dental Hygiene and Community Pediatrics / UAMS Head Start programs, the Little Rock School District, Children International, the United Way, the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Delta Dental Plan of Arkansas.
“UAMS is dedicated to improving the public health in Arkansas,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “We are glad to play a role in this effort and we would like to congratulate and thank all who helped this wonderful program come to fruition.”
Two Wakefield students handed out toothbrushes to visitors as they entered the library for the Oct. 25 dedication event. Following presentations by those involved, activities moved down the hall to the clinic, where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, followed by an open house.
U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder toured the clinic following the dedication ceremony and praised participants for working together to bring better oral health to Little Rock children. He noted that nationally, 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness.
Snyder said that as a family doctor he certainly could see the value the clinic will offer students unable to focus on school work because of untreated dental problems.
UALR’s Share America program has partnered with area dental health organizations and professionals to provide dental screenings, tooth cleanings and anti-cavity sealants to children in six Little Rock schools since 2000. The fully equipped clinic will enable the program to expand its services to the children and fix problems that might create pain and poor health. The five other elementary schools to be served by the Wakefield clinic are Franklin, Bale, Chicot, Stephens and Wilson.
“This is an important initiative,” said Superintendent Roy Brooks of the Little Rock School District. “It’s something that can make a real difference in what we are able to do in the classroom as the clinic allows us to catch dental health problems that could keep students from academic success.”
“Last year, we were unable to help the 150 to 200 children with emergency dental needs,” said Cheryl Chapman, director of the UALR Share America, “With the new clinic, those children will not be left in dental pain.”
Wilson accepted awards in recognition of the many UAMS dental hygiene and Head Start employees who worked to improve the health of children in the Little Rock School District. Over the past seven years, the UAMS Department of Dental Hygiene has provided screenings, x-rays, cleanings and sealants for more than 500 children in its clinic and has participated in the more than 8,000 screenings within the schools. Since 1995, UAMS has been involved with Children International, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in poverty. UAMS and Children International have worked together to improve the overall health of more than 11,000 children in Arkansas.