As we embrace National Children's Dental Health Month, Door County Medical Center (DCMC) Dental Clinic announces its annual Tooth Fairy Fundraiser, happening February 19-23, 2024, between 11:30 am and 1:00 pm. The booth is located at the 16th street entrance of the Sturgeon Bay Campus, where volunteers will be selling symbolic paper teeth for various amounts. Look out for tooth fairies of all ages roaming the hospital departments, collecting donations, and selling paper teeth.
This year holds special significance as DCMC celebrates the Dental Clinic's 25th Anniversary. "As part of the celebration, we'll be handing out tooth-shaped cut-out cookies. This not only marks the clinic's transformation and growth but also highlights our success in increasing access to dental care, with over 5000 patient visits annually," says DCMC Dental Clinic Director Tanya Fischer.
Accessible Dental Care
Community collaboration is important in ensuring accessible dental care, especially for children. DCMC's Oral Health Coalition, is comprised of members from United Way, WIC, Public Health, ADRC, and the Library and meets regularly to plan events and share oral health education. This collaborative effort also includes a referral system from various organizations to connect community members with the dental care they need.
Additionally, DCMC Dental Clinic actively participates in the WI Oral Health Alliance's "Seal A Smile" program. Through this initiative, the clinic brings portable equipment into schools, providing exams, sealants, and fluoride varnish to 1st-5th graders. Fischer adds that this year, the program has more than doubled the number of participating students, emphasizing DCMC's commitment to proactive dental care.
Children's Dental Health: A Vital Issue
Children's dental health significantly impacts their overall well-being. Oral health is crucial for a child's ability to eat, speak, learn, and socialize without pain or discomfort. It extends beyond the physical, affecting their confidence, self-esteem, and even academic performance.
A poignant illustration of the importance of children's dental health comes from a recent patient case. "We received a call from a local school concerning a child with a swollen cheek, experiencing nighttime pain, and struggling to concentrate in school," shares Fischer. "After obtaining parental consent, we scheduled an appointment. X-rays revealed the child had two primary teeth broken to the gum line and were infected."
In response, our dedicated team extracted the remaining teeth, prescribed antibiotics, and addressed other cavities discovered through the X-rays. The result? The child is now free from pain and benefiting from ongoing preventative care. This story underscores the impact of addressing children's dental health, not only on their immediate well-being but also on their future quality of life.
Untreated tooth decay in children can lead to missed school days, lower grades, and potential long-term challenges in adulthood. At DCMC Dental Clinic, we are committed to addressing these issues head-on, ensuring that every child in our community receives the comprehensive dental care they need for a brighter, healthier future.
Language Access and Expanded Hours
"Ensuring language accessibility is crucial for us," says Fischer. "We've been fortunate to use an interpreting service called Martii—an iPad app connecting us to live interpreters who assist throughout a patient's visit. The platform offers access in more than 250 languages. To further assist Spanish-speaking individuals, the clinic can provide intake papers and medical histories in Spanish."
Expanding accessibility over the years, the clinic is now open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Patients with Medicaid and those who are uninsured (supporting up to the 200% federal poverty rate) are welcome to receive services.
Holistic Health Approach
"During appointments, we go beyond dental health, discussing medical histories and medications. If patients lack a primary physician or need assistance in mental health, blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea, we help them find providers and send referrals for overall health improvement," Fischer shares.
The DCMC Dental Clinic stands out as the sole dental office in Door and Kewaunee County accepting Medicaid Insurance since 1999. She continues, "We've served thousands annually, bridging gaps in dental care. Each year, our fundraising efforts address Medicaid reimbursement deficits, ensuring we can continue serving the community and contributing to overall health improvement."
As we celebrate National Children's Health Month, please join DCMC in supporting the Tooth Fairy Fundraiser and our ongoing mission to provide accessible, comprehensive dental care for everyone in our community. Together, we build healthier smiles and brighter futures.