Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391

Dental Health Program Receives Boost from Grant

A $74,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation will fund repairs to the Marion County Public Health Department's Smile Mobile.

The 12 year-old mobile dental clinic will receive a host of improvements including a new generator, new heating and cooling systems, a new roof, a new wheelchair lift, new paint, new tires and new digital x-ray equipment.

"Health education and prevention are at the heart of what we do and the Smile Mobile creates great opportunities to share information about the significance of regular dental check ups," said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director, Marion County Public Health Department.

The 40-foot long Smile Mobile extends the health department's reach into areas where oral health services are needed. School aged children are able to receive preventive dental services without significant time lost from school and loss of work for parents.

"We know there are many students who suffer dental pain that distracts from their ability to learn. There is also the issue of self-esteem. Poor dental health can cause children to be ashamed of their looks. These children can also be subjected to teasing," said Dr. Caine.

In 2009, the Smile Mobile reached 1,608 students, and more than 5,600 Marion County residents. The Smile Mobile is available to all families with children and/or pregnant women at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The Walmart Foundation grant is unique in that company employees vote to select which projects receive funding.

"The health department and the children we will continue to serve with the Smile Mobile are grateful for the support of the Walmart Foundation and Walmart employees," said Dr. Caine.

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