Peri-monique and her brother, Kingston, are in great oral health thanks to Ascension Seton Dental Clinic!
February 27, 2018
Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
Ascension Seton Dental Clinic is a United Way-funded program partner in the areas of health and healthy birth outcomes, and is a funded program through the Health Improvement Fund. The programs at Seton that receive United Way funding are Healthy Teeth for Children, Prenatal Dental Program, Restorative Care Program, and Dental Care for Uninsured.
This is one in a series of blogs highlighting United Way-funded partners across the region. If you have a favorite United Way partner agency, let us know in the comments! You can see a full list of United Way program partners by clicking here.
What is your mission?
We are a community partnership of healthcare providers and volunteers committed to improving access to oral health services for adults and children with limited resources. Seton reflects the Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s commitment to serve everyone, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable.
Tell us about the community members you serve.
More than 60,000 children live in poverty in Milwaukee and are at high risk for untreated tooth decay and other dental problems. Seton’s programs serve children – many of whom have never received dental care in their lives – who attend kindergarten through eighth grade in area public and private schools. We do this by bringing our new Ascension Seton Mobile Dental Clinic to schools, or providing services at our brick-and-mortar office through the United Way-funded Healthy Teeth for Children program.
Although 80% of our young patients have insurance through BadgerCare (Wisconsin Medicaid), few have a dentist who can care for them, because of the limited number of dentists who accept BadgerCare. Of the remaining children, most are uninsured, preventing any access to care. Each year at the schools we visit, we find 4,000 children with tooth decay – 700 of whom need urgent care.
Why is dental health so important, particularly for children?
Dental pain is the leading health-related cause of absenteeism in schools and the most common chronic health problem among youth ages 6 to 19. Dental health is vital for children because it helps keep them in school, able to learn without the distraction of tooth pain, and lays a foundation for a lifetime of good overall health.
What does success look like for Seton?
We measure success by the number of children screened, the number of children receiving preventive dental care and oral health education, and the number of children receiving follow-up care to bring them to full oral health.
One of our favorite success stories is about siblings Peri-monique and Kingston, who came to us through the Smart Smiles program. Both had numerous cavities. Worse, one of Peri-monique's teeth was infected and painful -- keeping her awake at night, limiting her to eating only soft food, preventing her from focusing on her homework, and often causing her to miss school.
“I didn't want to stay home because I miss my friends and miss out on learning, and I love to learn,” Peri-monique said. “Class was a good thing, and I love to do all of the stuff that I do in class. I miss my teacher.”
Smart Smiles in-school program referred mom Monique and two children to Seton’s clinic where, in 21 appointments, they had 16 fillings, 9 extractions, and other care to complete treatment. Today, Peri-monique, 9, and Kingston, 8, are in great oral health.
How does United Way funding help you achieve your mission?
Smart Smiles and Seton are among the Community Benefit initiatives that Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s sponsors, in collaboration with community partners, to care for the vulnerable and meet identified healthcare needs. We are committed to expanding our oral-health programs for children to meet the great need, but we can do so only with the support of community partners such as United Way. We are grateful to United Way for its strong support of Healthy Teeth for Children, as well as prenatal oral health, adult restorative care, and adult urgent care.
Get involved! Seton is always looking for donations of oral care supplies, including toothbrushes and toothpaste for dental care “goodie bags” given out to all Smart Smiles children. To donate, contact Robyn Kibler, Seton clinic manager, at (414) 585-3206.
Feeling inspired? Volunteer to impact those in need in our community. United Way makes it easy with the Volunteers United portal!