Healthy Teeth: Healthy Smiles at Perspectives-Calumet

A healthy smile from a very excited Perspectives Charter Middle School student who received free dental services.

Sam Perryman

On Wednesday, March 11 2009, Dr. Tina Harris and her team of dental assistants from Advocate Illinois Masonic Dental Center's oral health program, set up shop in a Perspectives-Calumet Middle School classroom and spent the day cleaning teeth, screening for cavities, giving fluoride treatments, and installing sealants. Using portable equipment, the team erected two cleaning and treatment stations, complete with reclining chairs, water picks, suction nozzles, and rotating brush heads.

Over the course of the day, groups of students were brought in and seated where they waited for Dr. Harris to examine their mouths, while she called out each student's tooth disposition to an assistant who recorded every detail. For some students, this was their first dental visit, which made their experience a bit more exciting and interesting. 

By the time of the final school bell, Dr. Harris and her team had screened and treated fifty-two young scholars and wrote referrals for students requiring follow-up care. When asked about the importance of this day, Dr. Harris said, "This is one of the most orderly and productive visits the team has made since starting to do school-based [dental] screenings in Chicago. We are really excited to serve the students here at Perspectives.”

A Perspectives Middle School student's smile really endorses the adage, "a smile goes a long way."

Sam Perryman

Eight days later, the Advocate Illinois Masonic Dental Center’s mobile dental van team made its first visit to Perspectives-Calumet Middle School and began treating students who were identified by Dr. Harris as requiring follow-up dental care.

The mobile dental van was fully equipped to handle the additional care required. It contained a waiting room and office, two exam chairs, an x-ray machine, and a variety of dental cleaning and filling tools. The mobile dental van’s staff saw four students that first day, taking x-rays of the students’ teeth and mapping out the care that they would provide on the next visit.

The mobile dental van made a subsequent visit and serviced seven more students for x-rays and mapped out the care that they will receive on their next visit. All of this care has been provided free of charge to the students and their families, through a combination of health insurance reimbursements and supplemental grant funding. That funding, as well as the coordination of these efforts, has been provided by Atlantic Philanthropies' Elev8 program.  

This Perspectives Middle School student's smile is so contagious, it speaks the common language known to all.

Sam Perryman

Elev8 (formerly known as Integrated Services in Schools (ISS), is designed to ensure that middle school students succeed in school and their communities by providing them with multiple supports, including: comprehensive on-site school-based health services; before and after-school, and summer learning opportunities; and effective mentoring by caring adults. In addition, the initiative will ensure that middle school students and their families benefit from available public programs, including tax credits and health care coverage.

With the April opening of Perspectives-Calumet’s new health center (ACCESS at Perspectives) just around the corner, the Elev8 program is looking to Advocate Illinois Masonic Dental Center’s mobile dental van to supplement the health center’s primary health care services on a regular basis. The van is scheduled to visit Perspectives-Calumet Middle School each month for the next year.

Through these collaborations, we expect more students will illustrate more Perspectives' guiding principles by taking advantage of these monthly dental van visits. They will not only have healthier teeth and smiles, but also live healthier lifestyles.