Third-graders in the city and county school systems find themselves opening wide for dentists thanks to the dental sealant program funded by a public health grant.
The assistance came through the state Department for Public Health's oral health division, said Rosie Miklavcic, public health director for the Franklin County Health Department.
"We received the grant, and we purchased all of the equipment and supplies that would be needed for the program last year," she said. "Now we are implementing the program this year."
Community dentists and their staffs are volunteering time to provide free dental service to third-graders. This group was chosen because at this stage they have their first molars, actually their sixth-year molar. And this program provides free sealant for molars deemed healthy and free of decay by health-care professionals.
"What is gratifying most to me is the response we received from the dental community," Miklavcic said. "This is a great partnership with the school system, the health department and the dental community."
Katie Ammon, assistant coordinator for the Harry J. Cowherd Family Resource Center, said students must have parental permission to participate.
"This gives children a chance to get early prevention care," Ammon said. "Also, it gives children a chance to have dental care who normally wouldn't be able to afford it."
Miklavcic said the state health department hopes to offer this program every year.
Family dentist practitioner Dr. Arlene Baluyut and her staff volunteered their time Wednesday at Elkhorn Elementary.