More than a dozen children from Clarion and Eagle Grove were able to have free dental work done Nov. 22 in Belmond through the I-Smile program.
I-Smile is a state initiative that begins with dental screenings, fluoride treatments and sealants for students in the 2nd, 3rd and 8th grades in schools that have 40 percent or more of children receiving free or reduced-price lunches. There is also preschool screening.
The Webster County Public Health Departments provides the I-Smile dental services for smaller counties, including Wright County, according to Cindy Partlow of Webster County Public Health. In cooperation with qualified school districts, uninsured children are first identified and then seen by a dental hygienist from public health using mobile equipment brought to the school.
Children with decay are then refered to a dentist. The public health department reached out to the Dental Center of North Iowa in Belmond for help. Dentists Eric Barnes, Dan Garman and Katie Odland treated the children at no charge, covering all the costs for fillings and other dental work.
“We are glad to be able to help these kids, most of whom have never seen a dentist before,” said Dr. Eric Barnes. “There is a certain amount of anxiety with some of the kids, so we are working with that, too.”
“It is so gratifying to be able to help these children,” said office manager Misty Gomez. “Some of these kids have been in pain and needed help.”
I-Smile will be coming to screen preschoolers in Belmond-Klemme in January, according to B-K School Nurse Danette Showalter. Screenings for older children will be scheduled a bit later.