Millions of children across America face extra challenges in accessing routine dental care. Transportation barriers, lack of a sufficient number of providers, and an inability for parents to take time away from work are just a few of the reasons these kids may go years without a dental check-up. Add to that the supply and labor shortages the pandemic caused over the last two years and you have the perfect storm for unchecked, rampant decay in children living in marginalized communities.
Thanks to the support of Septodont, our National Screening Initiative sponsor, the safety-net dental clinics that have the best chance of reaching at-risk kids have begun to rebound from the devastating impact of the pandemic. From July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, our program members reported screening 55% more kids on average than the previous year, and 74% more than during the height of the pandemic. Without the support of generous donors including Septodont, those numbers would be far, far less.
One of our program members, Sonrisas Dental Health in San Mateo, California, screened ten times the number of children in the last 12 months than they did the year before. The team at Sonrisas increasingly pairs with partner organizations to conduct targeted outreach and create referral pathways for children with restricted access to dental care, and school screening events are a key component of their plan. Despite the pressures of the pandemic, supply shortages, and staffing challenges, Sonrisas is on track to provide 20% more visits this year than pre-COVID.
"This partnership with America’s ToothFairy is key in providing access to high-quality oral health care, oral health education, and hygiene supplies to children countywide."
“COVID-19 has created many barriers to care for Sonrisas’ low-income, minority patients,” Sonrisas’ Director of Development, Maura LeBaron-Hsieh told us. “Financial grants and products from America’s ToothFairy positively impact and make a huge difference. Without this support, the cost of care would make it impossible to provide access to oral health care to underinsured and uninsured children. This partnership with America’s ToothFairy is key in providing access to high-quality oral health care, oral health education, and hygiene supplies to children countywide.”
Likewise, Augusta Regional Dental Clinic in Fisherville, Virginia nearly doubled the number of screenings they conducted in the last year compared to the previous year.
“The grants and donations have been a game changer for our clinic this year,” Augusta’s Executive Director, Sophie Parson reported. With the cost of supplies on the rise, the clinic’s staff expected that they would not be able to offer complimentary dental hygiene products to the kids enrolled in their school program.
“We simply could not include that in our budget anymore,” Parson told us. “It was a difficult decision since we know many children in our community do not have access to such goods. But thanks to America's ToothFairy, every child coming through our clinic's doors and participating in our school-based program has received a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. We are also grateful for the hands-on educational materials we have received. They make our school session attractive to our young patients and way more fun. Children are excited to come and spend time with us checking their teeth and learning more about oral health.”
Support from sponsors including Septodont makes stories like these possible and is helping our program members push through a very challenging time to ensure kids suffering from dental disease can be identified and referred for essential dental services to restore their smiles to good health. As reports continue to roll in, our members are on track to provide dental screenings to two million kids since 2006. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and sponsors, America’s ToothFairy stands ready to help them reach two million more!
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