Leader Blues

Friday, August 14, 2009

TOP STORY >> Dentists give children free care

By JONATHAN FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

About 50 Jacksonville-area kids 12 and under received free dental screenings this week thanks to Central Arkansas Dental Associates and the Colgate Mobile Dental Van.

The dental unit was parked in front of the Jacksonville Walmart on John Harden Drive Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Andy Orr of Central Arkansas Dental examined the kids’ teeth, explained how they can prevent cavities and how to brush properly.

Orr was assisted by Jackie Ortner and Dina Holland.

“I love to volunteer. I love working with kids. They are so happy to see us,” dental assistant Jackie Ortner said.

Melissa Meredith, Central Arkansas Dental’s director of operations, said that it’s great to get out of the office and give back to the community.

“Sometimes (kids) come to us at 5 years old without their baby teeth,” Meredith said.

She said children who lose their baby teeth early are unlikely to form their adult teeth properly.

“That’s the importance of pediatric dentistry,” Meredith said.

The van, which is an RV with a compact dental-examining room inside, travels around Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana year-round, serving under-insured communities.

The Colgate Mobile Dental van is driven by Holmesetta Green of Louisville and her husband, Nathaniel.

Their mission is to educate parents and children about the importance of dental hygiene. They’ve been at it for eight years.

The Greens said the demand for dental care is growing every day.

“We go to a city and ask dentists to volunteer,” Mrs. Green said.

Central Arkansas Dental’s staff was asked only the day before to work at the event, but they jumped at the chance.

The kids who took advantage of the Colgate van Thursday are better prepared for the start of school next week.

The Greens expect to return next year, but that might not be soon enough for some.