Healthy Grins for Central Ohio Kids
by Susan Post
More than 12 percent of children in Franklin County and 22 percent in Delaware County have never visited a dentist, according to a 2011 Ohio Department of Health report. With dental insurance, there is a gap where Medicaid ends and insurance begins, often at the expense of children’s dental health.
Filling that gap is KidSMILES. The non-profit organization offers a host of dental services at just 10 dollars per visit for children 18 and under in low- to mid-income families. Families at 250 percent of the poverty level or below are eligible for KidSMILES’s services, including dental exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments, cavity removal and restoration, extractions, minor dental surgery, and management of impacted teeth and orthodontics. Families pay for the dental work that day with no additional billing or follow up paperwork.
“This is a pretty unique model – there’s nothing quite like this in Ohio,” says Executive Director Julie Homon. She and her husband started the all-volunteer clinic as a way to give back to the community while filling the dental healthcare gap.
KidSMILES wants to be a long-term partner in a child’s health. “Children really should be seen as soon as they have their first tooth or by the age of one,” Homon says. She stresses the importance of early care so children become comfortable visiting the dentist, but it also lets parents set up good dental habits for their children. “Our goal is to be a dental home for those who need us,” Homon says.
The clinic is receiving an all-around positive reception. Volunteers love it, and, “We’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback from the Franklin County Commissioners,” Homon says. While about three-quarters of the 500 volunteers that have worked with KidSMILES are in the dental field, Homon sees many patients’ parents who want to get involved and help in any way they can.
KidSMILES is open on a limited basis, and hopes to expand to a more robust schedule, though it is still accepting new patients. Homan encourages families to call and see if they are eligible and to set up an appointment.
Location: 770 Bethel Rd. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 614-458-1711 or visit KidSMILESClinic.com.