With businesses slowly reopening in Nevada and the national economy lurching toward a degree of normalcy, Future Smiles, the state’s largest school-based preventive and restorative dental health program, has returned to business.
The nonprofit group, which serves the Las Vegas Valley’s at-risk school-age children, has invested $50,000 in technology and equipment to treat children safely and protect staff.
Future Smiles hopes its resuming services, at the Nevada Women’s Philanthropy Dental Wellness Center at Elaine P. Wynn Elementary School, 5630 Coley Ave., yields relief. With Clark County schools closed to flatten the coronavirus pandemic’s curve, the nonprofit’s clientele has had to go without necessary dental care.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has complicated dentistry. Aerosols created when COVID-infected people, symptomatic or not, open their mouths, can spread the virus. Dentistry’s instruments — handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, polishers, water sprays and compressed air — can combine with patients’ saliva to intensify aerosol creation.
Future Smiles CEO Terri Chandler said dental practices must protect themselves in four key ways to ward off the coronavirus — upgrading personal protective equipment — face masks, gloves, body coverings; using preprocedural mouth rinse (peroxyl); intraoral evacuation; and extraoral evacuation.
To meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines, Future Smiles spent $50,000 in all. About $40,000 toward an extraoral dental suction system that uses ultraviolet light to show germs and enable high-efficiency particulate air filtration. Some of the rest went to outfit Future Smiles dentist Milan Montero and staff with personal protective equipment, including N95 surgical face masks.
Since its 2009 founding, Future Smiles has provided low-cost or no-cost dental services to more than 100,000 at-risk children in Southern Nevada. Services were performed at Clark County schools and at the Nevada Women’s Philanthropy Dental Wellness Center, opened in March 2019.
Montero said oral health matters in children’s overall health. Without preventive care, he said, children, like adults, are at increased risk for developing oral maladies including gum disease, a set of inflammatory conditions affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. COVID-19 exposure can be especially risky for people battling inflammatory diseases, he added.
“Our children’s health starts in their mouths,” Montero said. “We’re ready to help them keep smiling and stay healthy.”
About Future Smiles
Local nonprofit Future Smiles has provided low-cost or no-cost dental services to more than 100,000 at-risk children in Southern Nevada since 2009. Dental services such as exams and cleanings were performed at Clark County schools through the nonprofit’s mobile dental office and at the Nevada Women’s Philanthropy Dental Wellness Center at Elaine P. Wynn Elementary School, opened in 2019.