Cortez Journal

Local dentists make a difference with children

December 15, 2001

The local dental professionals continue to set the standard for the rest of the state with their kindness. Kids In need of Dentistry (KIND) brought $82,000 worth of services to children whose families donít have dental insurance or Medicaid coverage. This was accomplished through the "Miles for Smiles" program. Miles for Smiles provides a mobile dental van that visits communities in Montezuma, Dolores and La Plata counties, and other areas of Colorado. Area dentists donate time and services to staff the van.

"We are not sure how to begin to express our thanks to the local dental professionals for the help they have given the program," Dixie Gray, local coordinator for the Miles for Smiles Program, said.

"Local dental professionals provided over $35,000, almost half of the value of services to the children this time the van was in the area. The van provided over $82,000 this trip to the local area. We would like everyone to know who these wonderful volunteers are."

While the van was in Cortez and Dove Creek, Drs. Ken Carlson, John Vestal, Jacob Boyer and Gary Vogelsberg of Cortez, Dale Strietzel from Mancos, hygienist Michelle Thornton from Denver and Kim Roberts, CDA, of Cortez, all helped.

Dr. James Eich, president of San Juan Dental Society said, "We think this is a wonderful program and it is our duty to help the local children. We are glad to ensure the program works for our community."

Eich is one of the 25 dental professionals who helped while the van was in the area. "The van staff is wonderful," he said. "They do everything they can to make this a great experience. They tell the kids that we have chosen to see them today. The staff makes you feel appreciated for giving our time and expertise. That counts for a lot!"

Dr. Peggy Ramsey, a staff dentist for KIND clinics in Denver, will now replace Dr. Gary Andersen of Durango, as staff dentist for the area.

Other area dentists and dental staff who contributed included Drs. David Mallett, Greg Mann Gary Vogelsberg, Glenn Rutherford, Gerlinde Ehni, Matt Falkenstein, Robert Volger, Thomas Grams, Courtney Heinicke, Jeff Nelson, Brian Christopherson, James Mulkey, Elyse Kingener all Nicolas Groskoft, and from Denver, Susie Tomilson. Hygienists who helped are Toni Murray, Stacy Webb and Beth Rice, Cyndy Bell and Thornton.

The van will start seeing children again starting on Jan. 22 in the Durango area. The van is currently parked at the Durango Fire Station. Although the program was cut from 12 months to 10, Gray said she is optimistic about serving the 800-some area children who qualify.

In addition, Miles for Smiles has launched Education Campaign to complement the program which is a comprehensive public dental education program that initially is targeting schools in Archuleta, Dolores La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties.

The school-based oral health education program, which has been endorsed by the Colorado Dental Hygienistís Association, is the major feature in KINDís Miles for Smiles campaign to help develop good oral hygiene habits, such as daily brushing and flossing.

The program complements the comprehensive dental care currently being provided to under-served children throughout Western Colorado by the Miles for Smiles Mobile dental van. Gray will begin working with grade school students in February.

Other features of the Miles for Smiles public education campaign will include community dental health fairs and parent education programs.

The following schools will be participating in the Miles for Smiles dental education program: Pagosa Springs, Dove Creek, Florida Mesa, Needham, Park, Riverview, Sunnyside, Bayfield, Ignacio, Battle Rock, Beech Street, Downey, Kemper, Lakeview, Lewis-Arriola, Manaugh, Mesa, Pleasant View, Robin Rogers, Mancos, Dolores, and Silverton.

In all, 26 schools in Southwestern Colorado are currently signed up for the school-based program and other are expected to participate in the near future.

In addition to local classroom teachers, participants in the initiative will include dental professionals, school nurses, students, other heath care providers, and area Miles for Smiles representatives. In collaboration with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, KIND is providing curriculum materials and supplies, and other technical assistance. Additional support is being provided by Anthem and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The program is currently accepting donations, which are tax-deductible. To contribute, contact Gray at 259-1086, ext. 12, or mail to Southwest Community Resources, Miles for Smiles program, 295 Girard St., Durango, CO 81303.

Copyright © 2001 the Cortez Journal. All rights reserved.
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