The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County has partnered with the nonprofit More Smiles Wisconsin to open a dental clinic at the Allied Drive Boys and Girls Club that would make an essential staple of health care more accessible and easy for families across the county. The new clinic, providing services to uninsured and Medicaid patients, will open later this month.
Using funds from a Delta Dental grant as well as financial contributions from the BGCDC, as many as 6,000 residents across Dane County will be able to have access to dental care.
A clinic will open in Fitchburg on the site of the Boys and Girls Club Allied Drive Family Center later this year and will be available for BGC members as well as the general public, with a sharp focus on providing dental care for children.
The dental clinic is the culmination of years of collaboration between More Smiles and Michael Johnson, CEO of BGC, who has long wanted a dental clinic as part of a way to build resources for the community.
“The project is important because there’s a huge need in the community for dental care,” More Smiles Executive Director Jeff Okazaki told Madison365. “Nearly every time I’ve met with a community group that serves the same population, I hear ‘Oh that’s great, we have so many people ask us about dental care.’”
Okazaki says that an informal survey found that one in three kids had some sort of active dental issue like pain or decay. He said the Madison Metropolitan School District reports that there were at least 7,000 visits to the school nurse for dental pain and that nationally dental pain is the top reason why kids miss school.
“We’ll have a bit more focus on pediatric care, but we accept patients of all ages,” Okazaki said.
More Smiles dental clinics currently serve about 3,000 low income patients every year. They provide cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, fluoride varnish and sealants for children among other services.
Dr. Neema Jahdi will be the on-site dentist for the clinic. Dr. Jahdi is a former Madisonian who had his own practice out in Ohio for several years but has decided to move back to Madison to help get the BGC dental clinic up and running.
“I am a big believer in helping those in need,” Dr. Jahdi said. “It is very fulfilling to me to help those that need it the most. I envision the clinic as a place that young and old can take steps to improving and maintaining their dental care.”
Dr. Jahdi, along with a dental hygienist and several volunteers, will begin booking patients later this month. Anyone interested in being a patient can call the Patient Care Coordinator at 608-665-2752 or go online to moresmileswi.org.
Okazaki said that the Department of Public Health estimates nearly 92,000 people in Dane County would be eligible for the services that More Smiles is providing and that at least 60,000 have dental needs.
For his part, Michael Johnson sees this as an exciting investment for the kids and donors.
“We have been working on this clinic for five years and it’s exciting to see this finally happen,” Johnson told Madison365. “This is a major investment for our kids and we are thankful for the donors and volunteers who stepped up to make this happen. Because of them a full time dentist and volunteers will come through More Smiles Wisconsin and hundreds of children and their families will receive comprehensive oral health care right inside of the Allied Boys and Girls Club Family Center.”