Children at Angie Grant Elementary School in Benton will soon have a chance to have free dental treatment for a couple of weeks.
Karla Neathery, Benton School District director of curriculum and instruction, made the announcement at the Monday school board meeting.
She said Arkansas Children’s Hospital will send a mobile dental program to the school “hopefully in May or early October” to provide free comprehensive dental treatment and prevention education for at risk children. This is a joint project between Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas.
“We are very excited about this opportunity,” Neathery said. “It’s a mobile dental program — it’s really a 40-foot long dental RV that travels around the state.”
A memo from the Benton School District reads, “The program will come to Angie Grant in the fall of 2009-10 to meet the needs of our second-grade students. They will be at Angie Grant for two weeks.”
Neathery said Angie Grant is one of 23 schools in Arkansas the program has targeted. The program is aimed at primarily helping at risk students, or children from low-income families, she said.
“They hope to serve 40 to 50 students,” Neathery said. “They are going to meet the needs of our second-grade students first. If there are other needs, they are going to do as many as they possibly can.”
Neathery said tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. She said it is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
“Locally, 61 percent of Arkansas children have evidence of current or past cavities,” Neathery said. “More than 51 million hours of schooling are lost annually due to lack of dental care among children.”
Neathery said 1,000 children per year, per mobile unit, will receive complete restorative care through the mobile dental program. She also said each mobile unit will provide about $700,000 of free dental care per year.
Source: Benton Courier