It has long been said that a child's smile can light up a room.
Thanks to a large grant, children at Williams Elementary in Magnolia were given the ability to make sure that smile stays healthy, thanks to dental exams and education provided by the health care minstry TOMAGWA.
"We received a grant from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to help serve the children of an area school and we chose Williams Elementary," said TOMAGWA dental coordinator Lorie Jones.
TOMAGWA grant writer Kelly Hamann proposed their Healthy Chompers program to the association, which chose it as one of just 15 programs nationwide to receive the funding.
"Williams Elementary has one of the highest economically disadvantaged student populations and we were proud to bring the "Healthy Chompers" program to children that might not otherwise be able to come to the clinic," said Hamann.
Volunteers from the Tomball ISD dental assistant program, the Lone Star College hygiene program, University of Texas Houston Dental School and the Houston Dental Assisting School helped TOMAGWA staffers and volunteers perform the services. Students were able to receive free oral examinations, free fluoride varnish applications, oral hygiene instruction, nutritional information, as well as a take home oral health kit.
The Healthy Chompers program saw 123 students, with 22 that qualify for follow-up treatment at TOMAGWA. Jones created educational stations for the students to rotate through while awaiting their turn for check-up with staff dentist Dr. West Ficken and volunteer dentist Dr. Mark Copas, who were assisted by staff Dianna Martin and volunteer dental assistant Debbie Huffstutler.
"If a patient does not have access then we will be trying everything we can to get them into our clinic," Jones added.
Copas said it was a no-brainer for him to say yes to participating in the program.
"I've always wanted to volunteer and this provided the perfect opportunity to do it," he said.
TOMAGWA is looking for a volunteer pediatric dentist to be able to see the 22 follow-up children at their Tomball clinic. UT Dental students will provide assistance. Please visit www.tomagwa.org for additional information on TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries.