The Eastman Dental Center has announced the launch of the Ronald McDonald House Charities SMILEmobile, according to a press release put out by the UR Medical Center. SMILEmobile is a mobile dental office that will provide dental care to children in Rochester schools.

According to the press release, this unit is the fourth active SMILEmobile and will provide dental care to more than 2,400 additional students. It will continue the mission of the other three SMILEmobile vehicles, visiting preschools and elementary schools.

At each school, trained staff will provide dental services such as cleanings, fluoride and sealants. Each SMILEmobile unit contains a dentist, hygienist, dental assistant and administrative coordinator.

The program runs year-round. In addition to serving city schools, the SMILEmobile visits rural community sites during the summer.

By providing much needed dental care early in life, the program aims to prevent other diseases later in life and improve the overall health of the city’s student population. According to the press release, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a recent rise in the occurrence of tooth decay in young children. This decay in baby teeth tends to lead to decay in adult teeth. Also, oral health problems are a cause of absenteeism from school.

“Supporting the SMILEmobile program makes perfect sense for us,” Board President of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, N.Y. Elsa Steo said. “Supporting the health and well being of Rochester area children is a wonderful expansion of who we are and what we do… we’re thrilled to be a part of this new SMILEmobile. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The lead donor for the new vehicle was The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, N.Y. According to its Web site, the charity supports the health and well being of children and their families in the broader Rochester community by awarding grants.

This is not the first time the charity has donated to the hospital; in September 2000 the company pledged $1 million to fund a new pediatric emergency department and other programs at the Children’s Hospital at Strong Memorial Hospital.

The second lead donor for the vehicle was the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation. According to the press release, the Foundation is a long-time supporter of the SMILEmobile program as well as a supporter of a separate satellite clinic located at the Daisy Jones Foundation Outreach Dental Center at School 17.

Other donors included the Joan and Harold Feinbloom Supporting Foundation, the J.M. McDonald Foundation, the Mary S. Mulligan Charitable Trust and the Fred and Floy Willmott Foundation.

The SMILEmobile program has been in effect for 40 years. Eastman Dental Center and the County Dental Society jointly implemented the “Indigent Children’s Dental Health Care Program” to provide dental service to needy children. This marked the first dental mobile unit in New York State.

Director of the Eastman Dental Center Cyril Meyerowitz, DDS believes that this program is necessary to improve the health of inner city students.

“Rochester’s inner city has the highest child poverty rate in all of New York, and parts of the city have been declared as having a serious shortage of dentists by the federal government,” Meyerowitz said. “Early intervention is critical – and the SMILEmobiles are a huge part of the solution. Without this effort, there would be more cost to the local health care system, more work and school hours lost and more children suffering.”

Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.

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