Saving Smiles of Maine is a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization established to provide access to preventive dental hygiene services for people who do not receive regular dental care. Access to dental health care in Maine can be difficult. The geographic distribution of dental providers in Maine is uneven, which makes access to dental health care challenging, particularly in rural areas. Transportation is a barrier. Guided by the officers on our board, Saving Smiles of Maine has formed partnerships with schools and Head Start Centers, developing the Saving Smiles for Miles Program that renders high quality dental hygiene services to children in alternative settings, with additional effort placed on raising awareness through dental health education in the classroom.
The lack of dental care can have devastating consequences. The 2000 Surgeon General's Report states "The social impact of oral disease in children is substantial. More that 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental related illness. Poor children suffer nearly 12 times more restricted activity days than children from higher-income families. Pain and suffering due to untreated disease can lead to problems eating, speaking, and attending to learning."
This student was first seen by our program at age 5. She had decay on her front baby tooth and we placed a temporary filling there. Sealants were placed on her baby molars. She received topical fluoride varnish and oral hygiene instruction and has been seen annually for preventive care. At age 11, she now has all her permanent teeth and has had no visible decay since that first visit.
As a result of Saving Smiles for Miles Program, approved dental hygienists and partnering dentists have decreased the rate of untreated decay while preventing new decay in the children we serve.
Saving Smiles for Miles Program has reached over 14,000 kids on important dental health topics through classroom presentations for all kindergarten through eighth-grade students This has a trickle-down effect in the community increasing the dental knowledge of not only students, but parents, teachers, and school administrators as well.