by John McElligott, MPH, CPH
Smile Maker, which received $8,500 from the COF Barclay-Giel Seed Grants Program, is a program of the Florida Keys Area Health Education Center. They will deliver dental care to children through a mobile dental clinic. The COF grant pushed Smile Maker closer to their goal of $125,000 required to purchase and equip the mobile clinic.
The mobile clinic will travel from school to school delivering dental care to children who would not otherwise have access to a dentist or dental hygienist.
Despite the beautiful location, the Florida Keys needs more dentists. The population of 77,150 has only 22 dentists, which is twice the national ratio of 1639 persons per dentist. Smile Maker will help the most challenged target population of children whose families are using Medicaid. Many of the 22 dentists do not treat patients on Medicaid, leaving those children without dental care.
Smile Maker draws from Wallace Smith, DMD, and his wife Pam, who established the Miles for Smiles program in Dare County, North Carolina. Dr. Smith is also retired Captain Smith, who served as a USPHS dentist assigned to the Coast Guard.
For more information about Seed Grants, visit www.phscof.org/seed-grants. For information about Smile Maker, visit www.mobilesmilemaker.org.