I am writing in response to the letter from Annie Guthrie from Elizabeth, published July 22. Ms. Graham is not alone in being unable to obtain or afford dental treatment. Regular dental care is a benefit that is out of reach to many and it is an important part of total body health and wellness.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department with the support of many local funding agencies and the Blennerhassett Dental Society has developed a means to assist adults in receiving needed dental treatment. "Smiles for Life" Adult Screening and Referral Program is available through the MOVHD. Adults from the six-county region served by MOVHD must fill out an application and be scheduled for a screening appointment. Proof of income is required and fees may apply based on a sliding scale following federal poverty guidelines.
An initial $15 fee due at the screening includes oral health screening and charting of existing conditions. A health history review, blood pressure and oral cancer screening will also be performed. Oral health education and home care supplies are also provided. Needed X-rays will be taken and the client may need to pay for them on a sliding scale. Based on most needed dental treatment the client is scheduled with one of the 26 area dentists who are volunteering to provide treatment from their offices. All of the information gathered by the public health practice dental hygienists at MOVHD aids in placing the client effectively and helps the treating dentist with time management. No actual treatment or medications are dispensed at the screening.
MOVHD is not equipped to handle a true emergency but Smiles for Life is an attempt to address the overwhelming dental needs of adults unable to obtain dental care. Since needs are so great, services are limited to the most needed dental procedure with pain and infection taking a priority. The Smiles for Life program is unable to assist with replacement teeth like partials or dentures.
Smiles for Life, a project developed with the local dentists and health department, is unique. The main goals are to reduce the number of hospital emergency room visits for dental pain and infection and provide a safety net for adults unable to afford dental treatment. The dentists are to be commended for their participation.
Smiles for Life applications can be obtained at MOVHD or mailed by calling 304-485-7373 ext. 104 or 106. Once an application is returned the client must allow time for processing and then call MOVHD to schedule an appointment.
Mary Beth Shea
Oral Health Coordinator
Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department