More than 150 Seattle-area children received fully subsidized dental care that will continue for a full year during Dental Home Day on Wednesday at the University of Washington Center for Pediatric Dentistry.
“It was beyond our wildest dreams,” said Dr. Rebecca Slayton, the Center’s director. “Some of these kids had never been to a dentist before, or not for quite a while.” It was rewarding to see so many children obtain care that they otherwise might not have received, she said.
The event was hosted by the Center in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) through its foundation, which is called Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children. This marked the AAPD’s third Dental Home Day, which is held in conjunction with the group’s annual meetings, which are taking place in Seattle this week. The event is held to emphasize the importance of a dental home for children – a continuing relationship with a dentist that addresses oral health in a comprehensive, accessible, coordinated and family-centered way.
On Wednesday, more than 60 AAPD volunteer dentists joined the event, helping guide patients through the clinic and answer questions. For children who were not fully covered by Medicaid or other insurance, the cost was covered by Health Smiles, Healthy Children with $30,000 in grants funded by sponsor Sunstar Americas Inc.
“It was better than we could have hoped. The number of kids served here surpassed by far the number for the first two years we did this,” said Paul Amundsen, AAPD senior director of development, at the event. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the planning and organization by the Center for Pediatric Dentistry staff.” The final patient tally was 152, according to the Center.
Dr. Slayton added, “It was amazing, just extremely well organized.” She singled out the Center’s outreach and marketing manager, Wendy Cone Dore, and faculty member Dr. Elizabeth Palmer for their planning, and thanked the other members of the Center’s faculty, plus dental residents and staff, for their efforts.
The young patients and their families clearly enjoyed the festive setting, which included appearances by sports mascots Blitz of the Seahawks, Mariner Moose and Harry the Husky, as well as Dr. Health E. Hound of UnitedHealthcare and Captain Amerigroup. Activities also included a free photo booth with costumes, storytelling and balloon animals, and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray visited during the morning and toured the Center.
Bray Hayden of Seattle brought her 14-month-old son, Beckett, for his first dental visit.
“We heard about it at his pediatrician’s office, and we thought it was time,” she said. Children were invited to the event through the Center’s referral sources, including pediatricians, social service agencies and schools. Some patients came in substantial batches.
“Quite a crew you have there,” said Dr. Slayton as she greeted Latu Huakau of Sea-Tac, who brought five of her eight children to the Center – the second group of five children to arrive within 10 minutes that morning.
Later, Huakau said that she was very pleased with her family’s experience at the Center and planned to continue bring her children for treatment despite the relatively long trip from Sea-Tac to the Center’s Magnuson Park location.
“The thing I like here is that everything is done under one roof,” she said. Aside from its comprehensive array of pediatric dental services, the Center also allows families to schedule simultaneous visits by multiple siblings.
The day also featured the presentation of the Center’s first Barrier Buster social work awards, recognizing efforts to break down barriers to children’s dental care. The two recipients were Paratransit of Bremerton and Seattle King County Public Health Outreach.