WOOSTER — The Viola Startzman Clinic is making February a month to smile about.
It is partnering with local dentists volunteering their time and the American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile program to give every child in need of it a free screening, treatment and access to oral health education.
The Viola Startzman Clinic specializes all year long in offering free and discounted care on a daily basis to Wayne County residents of all ages, but it has expanded its efforts in February to place special emphasis on oral health.
The dental program has expanded from previous years in order to serve more children in need.
A mobile clinic is scheduled for the Orrville Area Boys and Girls Club on Friday, Feb. 16, 8 a.m. to noon; with additional appointments available on Saturday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m. to noon; and Monday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the main clinic location, 1874 Cleveland Road, Wooster. Any child not able to come at one of those times can call the clinic to set up a more convenient appointment.
All children between the ages of 4 and 18 are eligible to participate in the Give Kids a Smile program. To make an appointment, call 330-262-2500.
The Daily Record will be a drop-off point for contributing hygiene items as part of the emphasis on dental health. Coordinating the effort at The Daily Record are Beth Miles and Julie Nosek.
Miles, the front office manager, is looking forward to another banner year of gathering donations of brand-new toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and other oral hygiene items.
"People see the ad," and come into the office to donate; employees contribute as well, she said.
"We had a really good response to it last year," she said, "more than expected."
A big wicker basket for collection had to be emptied so that it could be filled once again, Miles said.
"When we did it last year, we had an overwhelming response," affirmed Nosek, inside sales representative, adding, "When it's for children, people dig deep."
It's a cause "close to my heart," Nosek said, having had a family member with a serious health issue given excellent care at the Viola Startzman Clinic.
"The Clinic does so much for the community," she said.
In relation to oral health and the collection drive, Jaime Parsons, executive director of the Viola Startzman Clinic, said, "We hand out oral hygiene kits to all patients, all year long."
Statistics demonstrate how great the need is, according to information provided by Parsons.
One-fourth of children younger than 5 years old have cavities, and many have no dental coverage.
"In Wayne County, 19 percent of third-graders have untreated cavities, and 60 percent of children have a history of tooth decay," she said, according to an Ohio department of Health Make Your Smile Count Survey in 2015.
"Over 60 percent of Medicaid-eligible children have not had a dentist appointment in the last year," she said, based on an Ohio Oral Health Surveillance System.
Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, Parsons reported; and untreated, can lead to lifelong health problems.
Reporter Linda Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-264-1125, ext. 2230. She is @lindahallTDR on Twitter.