SMILES On WHEELS - Access To Dental Hygiene
Treatment for adults and children who do not have a regular dental office
Call 517-740-7422
for an appointment

Betsy: 517-740-5620
Kim: 517-740-2596
Upper Peninsula: 906-221-2389
Fax: 517-315-4918

1715 Lansing Avenue
Room 261
Jackson, Michigan 49202
Locate Us on Google Maps
Medicaid, dental insurances, checks and cash accepted · Reduced fees based on income

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Smiles on Wheels & SEAL! Michigan Success
January 12, 2011
Smiles on Wheels is a non-profit organization composed of Registered Dental Hygienists operating under Public Act 161 and who are focused on providing preventative oral health care services in non-traditional environments. Smiles on Wheels first became funded via the Michigan Department of Community Health SEAL! Michigan Dental Sealant program in 2007 and they are now servicing 39 schools within Michigan.

The Seal! Michigan dental sealant program funds non-profit programs to provide free dental sealants to children within the convenience of their own schools. Schoolbased dental sealant programs are highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to decrease the amount of dental disease on first and second molars. “Sealants prevent tooth decay and also stop cavities from growing. The Surgeon General’s report on oral health indicates that sealants can reduce decay in school children by more than 70 percent”1.

Over the last few years Smiles on Wheels has grown their school-based dental sealant program within Jackson County and is now providing school-based services within the counties of Hillsdale, Branch, Lenawee, and Ingham schools as well. The program provides free dental sealant placement to first, second, sixth and seventh graders in participating schools. Smiles on Wheels also has space in the Jackson County Health Department where they can provide sealants to children who were absent or otherwise unable to obtain dental sealants on the day of service within their school.

In the 2009-2010 fiscal year, Smiles on Wheels provided 3,981 dental sealants to 508 children in 30 different schools. In addition to the preventative dental sealant placement, they also provided 538 fluoride varnish treatments, and provided 612 children with oral health education. Smiles on Wheels perseverance over the years to begin, grow and perfect their dental sealant program has provided prevention and access to oral health care to thousands of Michigan’s children.

For more information on the SEAL! Michigan dental sealant program contact:
Jill Moore RDH, BSDH, MHA-E
Dental Sealant Coordinator
Michigan Department of Community Health

Or contact Smiles on Wheels directly.

Smiles on Wheels from left: Stephanie Moor RDH, Kim Crabtree RDH (President),
Shana Kuhn (sealant coordinator), Betsy Southern RDH (Vice President)

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). School-based dental sealant programs.

Mobile dental program fills a need in Jackson County
By Jessica Sipperley - Jackson Citizen Patriot
December 19, 2009
Hailey Mata showed no fear of the dentist as she walked to the mobile dental station in the Hunt Elementary School library and hopped into a reclining exam chair.

The 5-year-old eagerly pulled on a pair of sunglasses offered by Dr. Suzan Ly, a dentist from the Center for Family Health. But before Ly could take a peek at her teeth, Hailey had just one request:

"Don't pull out my teeth," she said.

After Ly assured her that wasn't the plan, Hailey settled back and opened her mouth wide, and Ly leaned over the chair to count her teeth.

Hailey, a kindergartner, was one of several students who visited the Center for Family Health mobile dental program that day. About 78 students were signed up for Hunt's clinic, in addition to about 35 children left from the team's previous visit, said Lynsey Cook, a dental assistant from the Northeast Health Center. Ly, Cook and hygienist Jari Smith form the center's mobile dental team.

"It's everything we would normally do in the office," Ly said. "We see a lot of people who have not been to a dentist before."

More requests from schools in the county, coupled with a simplified consent form for parents, have resulted in major growth in the two-year-old program, said coordinator Charisse Green. A total of 599 children were treated from February 2007 through 2008, compared to 1,023 children seen so far in 2009, she said.

An exam at the mobile clinic usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, which is less time than traveling to and seeing a dentist outside school, she said.

"At some schools last year, we saw 30 to 40 students," Green said. "This year, we saw 80 to 90. We think if we didn't go to them, they wouldn't come to us."

The mobile clinics offer dental exams, fluoride treatment, X-rays for new patients ages 6 and older, and sealants, which are plastic coatings that protect teeth from decay. At the clinic, Ly counted each patient's teeth, looking for decay and previous dental work, and Smith chronicled the observations.

After Lillian Vogel, 6, had her teeth examined, Smith draped a green cloth over her and took X-rays with a handheld machine.

"Last year, I was scared. Now, I'm not scared about it anymore," said Lillian, a first-grader.

Each student receives a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and a letter that lists the day's treatment and recommendations for follow-up care, such as a filling or an extraction.

The follow-up can be performed at the Center for Family Health Dental Office, 817 W. High St., or the Northeast Health Center, 1024 Fleming Ave., Ly said.

Ly, Smith and Cook primarily travel to elementary schools, but the center has held clinics at secondary schools, the Salvation Army and vacation Bible schools, among other locations. If the dental professionals do not examine all registered children, they return at a later date to finish.

The mobile program treats insured and uninsured children, as well as those on Medicaid, Green said. Medicaid covers more-serious procedures, such as tooth extraction, she said. The center also has a sliding fee scale to offset treatment costs for low-income patients who qualify.

Grants from several groups, including 100 Women Who Care, the Rotary Club of Jackson and the Hancock Fund, have enabled the mobile dental program to purchase key equipment, including the handheld X-ray machine, Green said.

The program has not received funding from sources other than grants.

"When you've got equipment and staff, things can really improve. We can go to more schools," said Dr. Jane Grover, director of the center's dental office. "You can see why a school-based center would be integral to letting parents know we're here."

The Smiles on Wheels program, through the Jackson County Health Department, is another mobile dental option for schools and community groups in Jackson County.

A team of three dental hygienists - Kim Crabtree, Betsy Southern and Stephanie Moor - travels to schools and also has a stationary clinic at the health department, 1715 Lansing Ave., which is open Thursday and Friday each week.

Since its inception about three years ago, Smiles on Wheels has treated more than 2,500 adults and children, Southern said.

Smiles on Wheels accepts insured, uninsured and Medicaid patients — the only requirement for a full teeth cleaning is that the patient cannot have a regular dentist, Crabtree said.

More than 200 students have attended Smiles on Wheels school clinics since the start of the school year, which is more than in past years, Southern said.

This increase is primarily due to more children coming to each clinic, she added. Smiles on Wheels provides treatment for first-, second-, sixth- and seventh-graders, and will offer to return if not all registered children are seen.

"It's our second or third time there," Southern said. "(Schools) are encouraging it more and kids are losing their insurance. Parents are recognizing the value of our services."

Students without regular dentists are eligible for teeth cleanings and X-rays at the school clinics. All students receive fluoride treatment, and a Michigan Department of Community Health grant allows the hygienists to put sealants on teeth if they are developed enough, even if a child has a regular dentist, Crabtree said.

Shana Kuhn, a Smiles on Wheels coordinator, escorts students from classrooms to the mobile dental clinic, contacts parents and keeps track of paperwork. At a clinic in November, Kuhn, using a plastic model of molars, explained the sealant procedure to a group of Brooklyn Elementary School students as they waited.

"It doesn't hurt. It's hard for you guys to get at all the little germs," Kuhn told the students, pointing to the crevices in the model teeth without sealants.

"This sealant makes your teeth nice for a long, long time."

Amy Tumas of Brooklyn brought her 7-year-old daughter, Jensen, to the Brooklyn clinic for sealants, and she said Jensen wasn't nervous about visiting the dentist.

"This is just easier," Tumas said. "As soon as she heard there were no shots, she was fine."
Smiles on Wheels is funded strictly from donations, grants and insurance payments, and Southern and Crabtree say more funding and time for grant-writing are key to helping the program expand.

Encouraging good oral hygiene and regular dental treatment at a young age aims to reduce disease in adulthood, Grover said.

Common problems seen in children include gingivitis, dental abscesses, which can turn into infections and decay in baby teeth, which can cause a tooth to split when the permanent tooth grows in, she said.

"We can cut future health-care costs by focusing on the younger population," Grover said.

"It is gratifying that this particular issue is seen as important."

As more schools request mobile dental services, the need for funding and support to meet this demand also is rising.

Hosting a mobile dental clinic is free to schools, and once students are seen the timing and coordination of follow-up care can be improved, Grover said.

But many children, including those who are covered for treatment through Medicaid, still are not getting proper dental care, and these programs seek to close that gap.

"Unfortunately, dental care is not looked at as important as medical care," Green said. "A lot of parents aren't knowledgeable. We can afford everyone the opportunity to have that care on site while they're at school."

Smiles on Wheels gets $5,000 grant from Jackson County Community Foundation
By Jackson Citizen Patriot Staff
November 22, 2009
Smiles on Wheels has been awarded a grant of $5,000 by the Jackson County Community Foundation's Community Needs Fund, which is made possible by the Alice Soderberg Fund. The grant will be used for the purchase of dental supplies to aid in access to dental hygiene care in Jackson County. The non-profit program has provided access to preventive dental hygiene care to 2,500 under-served patients in the Jackson community during the last three years.

Smille! Michigan Dental Sealant Program Survey comments from area schools:
  • Western Middle ISD, Erin Samon, “Amazing.”
  • Warner Elementary, Ben Gilpin, “The staff was on time, positive and worked well with students.”
  • Concord Middle and Elementary Schools, Tony Hutchins, “Very nice gals! Thx so much.”
  • East Jackson HS/MS, Marilyn Smith, “The ladies made the students feel extremely comfortable and they SMILE!!! Always such pleasant people. We thank you for that.”
  • Ezra Eby Elementary School, Pam Barnes, “Great opportunity for students.”
  • Smith Elementary, Brenda Schneider, “This is a great program & a great staff to work with. As the economy falls we are so appreciative for your help to our families.”
  • Stockbridge Middle School, Heidi Pierce, “This is a wonderful opportunity that I hope more families will continue to take advantage of.”
  • Woodworth Elementary, Cindy Bean, “Everything was great. Look forward to fitting it in next year.”
  • Robinson Elementary, Heather Jacobs, “Great staff interaction with our students. They even were able to provide us with information about a student who needed assistance. Thanks!”
  • Camden-Frontier, Mr. Scott Riley, “Great Program!”
  • Columbia High School, Scott Dukate, “Great program! Thanks for coming!”
Smiles on Wheels has been coming to Anew Horizon Childcare for about a year now. Betsie always makes sure every child is comfortable before she starts cleanings, and the children love her. My daughter had her first cleaning with Smiles on Wheels. Our parents love that we offer this service for their children. Children who generally would not have their teeth cleaned at an early age are now having them cleaned every 6 months. Babies in our program are having fluoride treatments done to ensure their teeth grow in healthy. Smiles on Wheels come directly to us every 6 months. The process is hassle free, and very rewarding. I am glad that we were able to partner with them. I would recommend Smiles on Wheels to everyone!

Sarah Allen
Program Director
Anew Horizon Childcare & Family Development, Inc.

Smiles on Wheels is a great program!  It has provided sealants for our first and second graders, as well as dental checks.  The staff has been so responsive to our school and community needs.  What a great opportunity for our kids who otherwise would not receive this type of prevention program.

Deb Powell
Brooklyn Elementary School

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