The North Country Children’s Clinic will provide oral hygiene care to thousands more children thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program.
Presented to the agency Thursday at the clinic, 238 Arsenal St., the money will be used to expand the agency’s Baby Teeth Basics program on Fort Drum.
“When we started, we projected running it with the funds we initially had for two years,” said Judith R. Overton, the clinic’s director of dental services. “This grant will allow us to continue it long term. The number of years depends on how many people we continue to see.”
The program began in May with about $10,000 from the Fort Drum Officers Wives Club, Samaritan Auxiliary and state Dental Foundation.
Members of the clinic’s dental staff go to two of the three community centers on post during the Women, Infants and Children federal supplemental feeding program clinics, which the Children’s Clinic organizes. About 100 children per month are seen throughout five WIC clinics on post, but Mrs. Overton said her goal is to reach as many as 1,800 children per year.
Only children up to age 5 are eligible for the program. Pregnant women are encouraged to attend, along with other WIC parents, to become educated on how to provide oral hygiene care for their children. Parent education is key, and oral hygiene at home should begin at birth, Mrs. Overton said. Parents should clean the inside of an infant’s mouth and gums with a soft washcloth or finger brush after each feeding and before bedtime, she said.
Mrs. Overton said during a Baby Teeth Basics visit, children receive dental screenings and have fluoride varnish put on their teeth to prevent cavities. For many children, she said, it is their first dental visit.
“We had a lot of kids who have had no decay, but I had a little boy about 3 or 4 years old in here the other day that only had six teeth left,” said Jill M. Guiles, dental hygienist.
“A lot of parents find if they call a dentist’s office they’ll say to come at 3 or 4 years old, but we say the first tooth,” Ms. Guiles said. “We try really hard to make it a fun first experience.”
For more information, call the clinic at 782-9450.