Future Smiles Dental Clinic receives $30,000 grant from Delta Dental

Head Start student Collin Talbert has his first dental visit at Future Smiles Dental Clinic.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Children International will help many children in the central Arkansas area keep a bright and healthy smile, thanks to a $30,000 grant from Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation.

UA Little Rock Children International received the grant to provide dental treatment to students in the Little Rock School District through the Future Smiles Dental Clinic. The clinic provides dental care to approximately 2,000 students a year.

“Delta Dental has been a longtime supporter of the Future Smiles Dental Clinic and UA Little Rock Children International,” said Jolene Perkins, program coordinator of the dental clinic. “They helped us fund a tooth sealant project for Little Rock children even before we started the clinic. We are thankful for all the support they’ve offered over the years.”

The grant will fund the purchase of dental supplies and equipment that is necessary to run the clinic based at Wakefield Elementary School. The clinic provides dental screenings, fluoride varnish, oral health education, sealants, and other forms of comprehensive dental care.

UA Little Rock Children International was one of 21 nonprofit and community organizations that received a grant. The $500,000 of funding in the foundation’s Community Grant Program will improve the oral health of hundreds of thousands of Arkansans.

Grant recipients were selected based on a number of criteria, including the number of at-risk children or adults served by the program, the level of community engagement in providing oral health prevention and treatment, and the ability to measure success and long-term results.

“Organizations receiving funding fit into four categories which best align with goals of the foundation: low-cost clinics, providing oral health educational opportunities, service-connecting organizations, and those incorporating oral health while addressing social determinants of health,” said Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation Executive Director Chrissy Chatham. “The categories support a comprehensive approach to oral health, and we believe these organizations can create a positive impact on oral health in our state.”

Since 2000, the dental program has provided dental screenings to more than 40,000 children. The clinic is staffed with a dentist from Arkansas Children’s Hospital and dental hygiene students from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. More than $3 million of dental care has been provided to children at the dental clinic at no cost to their families.

One of the clinic’s main goals is to increase the number of children who receive preventative tooth sealants and decrease the number of children with cavities. Between 2000 and 2019, the number of children screened with cavities has reduced from 37.6 percent to 21.9 percent.

It was the clinic’s goal to reach the United States Healthy People 2020 Goal of 28 percent of the children they screen to have dental sealants; a goal that they’ve successfully reached. Sealants can reduce tooth decay in school children by more than 20 percent and eliminate the need for expensive restorative treatments like fillings and crowns, according to the Surgeon General’s report on oral health. The number of children being screened with sealants has increased from 2.5 percent in 2000 to 38.2 percent in 2019.

“The objective of the dental clinic aligns with the state and the nation, which is to increase the number of children who receive preventative sealants and decrease the number of kids with cavities,” Perkins said. “We’ve had a great reduction in children affected by cavities over the years. Our state is headed in the right direction.”

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