Give Kids a Smile
What is the Give Kids a Smile
Mobile Dental Program?
The Bethany for Children & Families Give Kids a Smile Mobile Dental Program provides preventative and restorative care to children who do not have access to oral health care. Give Kids a Smile is a community program aimed at increasing access to dental care for underserved, low-income children. This program is endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the ADA Foundation and is coordinated locally by its Advisory Board.
Eligibility for Give Kids a Smile
Services are available to children ages one to 18. Children who haven’t been to a dentist within the past six months are eligible if they are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level or they have Medicaid insurance or they do not have any dental insurance or they have never been to a dentist.
Locations for Give Kids a Smile
The Give Kids a Smile Mobile Dental Program takes place on the mobile dental clinic that travels directly to schools in Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, Scott, Jackson, and Cedar counties. Licensed dental staff members provide services in the mobile dental clinic. An additional 34 general dentists and specialists provide follow-up work in their offices.
Services Provided by Give Kids a Smile
Children who qualify for this program receive the following dental services on the mobile dental clinic free of charge:
education to help improve oral health
sealants (if eligible)
Dentists or specialists and Community Health Care provide follow-up care. These services may include:
Follow-Up Care with Give Kids a Smile
Parents are strongly encouraged to attend follow-up appointments with their children. If a child is referred to a specialist or Community Health Care, the parent must accompany the child to his/her appointments. If parents are unable, Bethany staff will accompany the children to their follow-up visit. Bethany agency vehicles are used to transport the children to the dentist for follow-up work.
Referring Children to Give Kids a Smile
School nurses send out a permission form via the children at their school. The forms are returned to the school nurse, who then gives the forms to the Program Supervisor. Give Kids a Smile staff members review the forms for completeness and then, based on the information provided, decides whether or not a child meets requirements for the program.
Program Outcomes for Give Kids a Smile
The Give Kids a Smile Dental Program has been very successful since its inception in 2003.
Give Kids a Smile has provided dental services to 18,097 children on the mobile dental clinic between 2011 and 2017.
42% of children served have at least one cavity, and 11% have more than five cavities. These children are referred to dental offices for restorative care.
A Story of Success from Clients of the
Give Kids a Smile Mobile Dental Program
Jason’s dental needs were urgent. When the Give Kids a Smile mobile dental clinic came to his school, the dentist noted he had at least nine cavities. One was very big and painful. Within a week, nine-year-old Jason had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Lloyd, a Give Kids a Smile partner dentist, who determined that Jason actually had ten areas of decay. Two teeth required extraction, and eight others needed fillings. Over the course of three months, Jason had five appointments with Dr. Lloyd. When his restorative care was complete, Dr. Lloyd invited Jason to stay on as a permanent patient.
Since July 2011, a group of Quad Cities dentists have partnered with Bethany for Children & Families to resolve the access to dental care for uninsured and under-insured children of the community. The Give Kids a Smile program coordinates oral examinations, cleaning, sealants, and restorative services for children in need. Bethany’s mobile dental clinic travels the greater metropolitan area of the Quad Cities providing oral health services to children like Jason who have no dental insurance or who have the state provided Medicaid coverage.
Many low income families find that dental insurance is unaffordable. Regular visits to a local dentist’s office are beyond the family’s resources, and the dental needs of kids like Jason go unattended. What the Give Kids a Smile Program does is remove the financial barriers to make available basic oral health.
Program on Pause
Due to ramifications of COVID-19-related restrictions placed on schools by the state of Illinois and limited opportunities this fall in the state of Iowa, Bethany has paused the Give Kids a Smile mobile dental program through the end of 2020. The program and possible service opportunities in schools for 2021 will be evaluated in December.
Thank you, Quad Cities community, for your long-term support of the agency and this wonderful program!