The KidSMILES Pediatric Dental Clinic was founded in 2008 as a solution to a critical shortage of affordable dental options for low-income families in central Ohio. A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing quality dental care and education to children at an affordable cost to their families, KidSMILES operates two primary programs—“Providing a Dental Home to Children in Need” and “Educational Outreach to At-Risk Children”
The cornerstone of our organization, the KidSMILES Pediatric Dental Clinic, opened its doors to patients in December 2012 at 770 Bethel Road in Northwest Columbus. With a unique operating model that relies on services being performed by volunteers in our state of the art facility, KidSMILES is able to offer comprehensive services at a cost of only $10 per visit. To ensure that we are serving children most in need, KidSMILES serves families who earn less than 250% of the Federal Poverty Level ($60,000 for a family of four).
In addition to providing care through the KidSMILES clinic, volunteer dentists and hygienists have been conducting educational outreach programs to elementary school and preschool children since February of 2011. Through our partnership with the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the hockey team’s mascot Stinger joins our volunteers for the elementary school visits to create excitement. To date, KidSMILES has reached more than 22,000 children with our presentations about the importance of good dental hygiene. Each child also receives a take-away bag that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, Stinger coloring page and informational material.
James Homon, DDS, MS—Board Chair
Founder of KidSMILES
President of James A. Homon DDS, MS PC and Delaware Orthodontics
Jeffrey Milton, DDS, MS—Board Vice Chair
Original Board Member of KidSMILES
Owner, Olentangy Pediatric Dentistry
Timothy Edwards, DDS—Treasurer
Original Board Member of KidSMILES
Owner, Edwards Family Dental, Dublin
Fred Sakamoto, DDS—Board Member
Owner, Central Ohio Periodontics
Raymond Sheridan, DDS—Board Member
Owner, Sheridan Dental
Shelley Thompson, DDS—Board Member
Owner, Shelley A. Thomspon, DDS—General Dentistry
Norma Sexton — Executive Director
Laura Zuber — Educational Outreach Coordinator
Dental Care Needs in Central Ohio
Dental care is the number one unmet health care need for children in Ohio. According to the 2012 Ohio Oral Health Surveillance System Report by the Ohio Department of Health, Franklin County children are not receiving proper oral health care. Of the 284,836 children under age 18 in Franklin County, more than 12% (35,320 children) have never visited a dentist.
An article in the Dec. 30, 2012 Columbus Dispatch titled “Dental issues have big effects in poor kids” further illustrates the needs in our community and the nation:
- Cavities are five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. They are caused by an oral bacterial infection and are contagious.
- About 37% of poor children ages 2 to 9 in the U.S. have one or more untreated decayed baby teeth, compared with 17.3% of higher income children.
- 80% of tooth decay occurs in those living in the lowest socio-economic status.
- Low-income children lose about 51 million school hours each year to dental-related illness.
- Children with severe oral health problems have more heart and lung disease, as well as higher instance of stroke and diabetes as adults.
Dr. Paul Casamassimo, chief of pediatric dentistry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, explains that tooth decay is more than an inconvenience for poor kids stating,“It’s like a ‘silent spring.’ These kids’ cavities turn into infections and abscesses. The decay causes failure to thrive. They have poorer behavior compared to peers and live in chronic pain. This can go on for months before they get care.”