Schools in Hopkins County take their job of caring for the whole student seriously and, with the help of Big Smiles, provide free dental care to students.
Student personnel director Dr April Devine said the school district signed a contract with Big Smiles in 2020.
“We are just proud of this partnership and proud to be able to offer it to our families and our students,” she said.
Sarepta Elliott, team leader at Big Smiles, said the office is based in Michigan. This is a mobile dental unit, and they are scouring Western Kentucky to provide comprehensive dental services to students in schools.
“It’s a very rewarding job,” she says.
Devine said Big Smiles will visit all elementary, middle and high schools every year. They offer cleanings, fillings, exams, fluoride treatments, x-rays and some dental extractions for baby teeth.
“They will provide all kinds of different services, preventative and remedial,” she said. “Beyond that, they will make recommendations and referrals to other dental sites.”
Most children miss 2.3 days of school each year due to dental problems, Elliott said. Big Smiles takes care of the dental needs of every child. They can see children who otherwise would not be seen.
“We are seeing children whose parents have busy work schedules and they cannot bring them to the office because the days missing from school are difficult and the days missing from work are difficult,” she said. .
The program doesn’t cost the school district or parents anything for the service, Devine said
“This allows students who may not have insurance or who do not have access to dental care outside of the school day to see a dentist during the school day,” she said.
Devine said Angie Lester at central office is working with the schools’ family resource centers to make sure everything is set up for their dates with Big Smiles for the year.
“Each school has a designated day,” she said.
Prior to COVID-19, they had planned to offer dates in the spring and fall, but were unable to do so due to the pandemic.
“Hopefully next year we can start offering one again in the fall and one in the spring,” Devine said.