Making a difference...one smile at a time!
Oral health is important to one’s overall health with research linking dental disease to diabetes, heart disease, and childhood asthma. Poor oral health is largely preventable by eating a healthy diet, maintaining an active lifestyle, brushing and flossing daily, and seeing the dentist regularly. However, as poverty and related stressors increase, oral health may no longer be a priority for many families. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry identifies dental decay as the #1 cause of preventable disease in children. It compromises the health, development, and quality of life of children, affecting their eating, sleeping, self-esteem, speech development, and school performance. Dental decay is not an equal opportunity disease; children living in poverty are twice as likely to suffer tooth decay, and their dental diseases are more than twice as likely to go untreated, as their more affluent peers.
Light of the World Charities opened Little Lights Dentistry in 2016 creating a dental care safety net for uninsured children living in poverty. Little Lights Dentistry is unique in that it is the only practice in Martin County where care is provided at no cost to low-income, uninsured children; it is equipped with nitrous oxide allowing for immediate onsite care, provides transportation using Uber Health for those children with no other travel options-increasing access to care; and nutritional classes and oral health education to support continuity of care and healthy habits for life.
What we do:
1. Increase access to dental care for children living in marginalized communities by establishing a dental home, providing free dental care, and utilizing Uber Health to provide transportation to and from dental appointments as needed;
2. Emphasize the practice of oral health care with children, their parents, and the community at large, including keeping regular dental appointments, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice per day, and flossing daily;
3. Introduce and reinforce nutrition habits to the parent and child that will improve oral health, such as providing healthy snacks of fresh fruits and vegetables in place of sugary food and candy, consuming less or no sugary drinks including soda or juice, weaning their child from a bottle by their first birthday, and providing only water in a sippy cup.