Celebrating Healthy Smiles with the Kids of Alachua County

Celebrating Healthy Smiles with the Kids of Alachua County

University of Florida Dental Student examines Samiah Stacy (age 4) at the Southwest Dental Clinic in Alachua County during the free children’s dental screenings event and community dinner sponsored by United Health Foundation and the Florida Department of Health Alachua County. The events helped raise awareness of the importance of children’s dental check-ups for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Photo Source: Callie Lipkin

Michael Lawton, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida, meets with kids after their free dental screenings at the Southwest Dental Clinic in Alachua County. The clinic, funded by a $1.85 million grant from United Health Foundation, opened in July 2015, and to date has provided dental care for more than 1,500 patients, including more than 175 children. The free screenings and community dinner were sponsored by United Health Foundation and Florida Department of Health Alachua County to raise awareness of the importance of children’s dental check-ups for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Photo Source: Callie Lipkin

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Dr. Health E. Hound, Michael Lawton CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Florida and Dr. Bogdan Ivanov, DMD Florida Department of Health with Aniyah Jackson, age 3, speak at the SWAG Family Resource Center about the importance of children’s dental check-ups for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. The free children’s dental screenings and community dinner were sponsored by United Health Foundation and Florida Department of Health Alachua County. Photo Source: Callie Lipkin

Jeremiah Jackson, age 3, participated in the community dinner at the SWAG Family Resource Center hosted by United Health Foundation and Florida Department of Health Alachua County as part of an event to raise awareness of the importance of children’s dental check-ups for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. The Southwest Dental Clinic was funded by a $1.85 million grant from United Health Foundation, and since opening in July 2015 has provided dental care for more than 1,500 patients, including more than 175 children. Photo Source: Callie Lipkin

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.@UHGgives partners with @HealthyFla to provide free children's dental screenings http://3bl.me/fa765p #DentalHealth
Friday, February 26, 2016 - 3:00pm

CAMPAIGN: United Health Foundation

CONTENT: Blog

The smiles were brighter than the Florida sunshine at our February 25th event celebrating the six-month anniversary of the opening of the Southwest Dental Clinic of Alachua County! As part of the festivities, United Health Foundation partnered with the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, the Southwest Advocacy Group Family Resource Center (SWAG) and the Partnership for Strong Families to offer free children’s dental screenings in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month. 

The need for the clinic was reinforced by findings from a study released in Health Affairs stating that as of January 2013, about 45 million Americans lived in urban and rural regions with a shortage of dental providers. In particular, it’s important for children to have access to dental care starting as early as age one. And, according to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, childhood tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness. Left untreated, tooth decay can inhibit children’s cognitive and social development, compromising their growth, self-esteem and, ultimately, their quality of life. 

For many children, it was their first trip to the dentist and it was fun to see how excited they were about this brand new experience! For those who were a little worried about it, UnitedHealthcare’s mascot Dr. Health E. Hound was on hand to help show them the ropes and calm their fears so they were ready to show off those pearly whites.

The day wrapped up with a community dinner at SWAG and included thoughtful discussions around the importance of good oral health for both children and adults alike. 

This event marked a big milestone for United Health Foundation, which provided a $1.85 million grant to open the doors to the Southwest Dental Clinic in July of 2015. Since the opening six months ago, more than 1,500 patients—including more than 175 children--have received dental treatment at the clinic. The clinic provides examinations, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings and tooth extractions, thus serving as an alternative to an emergency room trip for unmet dental needs. 

It was a great day in Alachua County and we’re proud to report that 30 children participated in the free screenings! We are excited to see what the next six months will bring as Southwest Dental Clinic continues to lay the foundation for long-term dental health for hundreds of children and adults in Alachua County.