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Stephanie Harlan, 8, gets her X-rays taken with a digital X-ray machine by dental assistants Latoyya Anderson (center) and Beth Krominga (right), while Dr. Jason Grinter finishes up some paper work on the computer in the background at Northwest Elementary in La Salle on Friday morning. Grinter and his staff, from Park City Dental of Rockford, have been visiting La Salle Elementary Schools, and other area schools, this year to provide dental care to students in families on Medicaid or without dental insurance.
La Salle Elementary Schools nurse Amy Stone has seen students come into her office because dental pain has become a distraction from their schoolwork. Yet for local families who rely on Medicaid or who have no dental insurance, finding help isn’t easy. A new visiting dentist is working to reduce those difficulties. “It’s been a day and night difference. I’m so happy that this dentist sought us out,” Stone said. Dr. Jason Grinter, a dentist with a Rockford-based practice, has been visiting La Salle Elementary Schools and other area schools this year to provide care to students without access to regular dentists. Although visiting dentists have been performing similar preventative care, such as cleanings and fluoride treatments, for a number of years, Grinter has began offering follow-up visits to offer additional care, such as filling cavities. “It works really well for schools because kids have a difficult time concentrating if they have dental pain,” Grinter said. He explained that Medicaid covers the costs of this dental work, but with few, if any, local dentists accepting Medicaid patients these families have a difficult time finding treatment. Annabelle Higgins of La Salle, who has two daughters in the La Salle school district, has been on and off Medicaid for a few years. Currently, she’s on it and the nearest Medicaid-accepting dentists she’s been able to find are in Oswego and Rockford. “I can’t drive, so (with) the dentist coming to the school my kids can actually see the dentist,” she said. Grinter visited the La Salle Schools earlier this year for initial screenings and preventative care. At Northwest Elementary, for example, he and his staff set up a make-shift dental office in the school’s media center. About 300 Northwest students visited him that day, Stone said. During those screenings, Grinter was able to determine which students needed no additional care, which needed a follow-up session and which required urgent medical care. “We had 50 kids who were considered urgent. That blew me away,” Stone said. The parents of children in need of urgent care are alerted to that and given medical recommendations and the parents whose children need follow-up sessions are consulted before any more treatment is provided. Grinter returned to Northwest Elementary on Friday, where he was scheduled to help fill cavities and perform other services for about 20 students. He said that it’s common for 35-40 percent of students to have cavities when he first visits a school, but after a couple years of visits those figures can drop to 15-20 percent. “There is an impact,” Grinter said. Grinter said this type of dental work has been a full-time passion of his for the past two years. “You know the kids are happier and healthier,” he said.
Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Article comment by:
God bless you Dr. Jason Grinter and staff. How can anyone say there is no need for the afforable care act. It is so sad that a child who is in pain must wait for a good samar. next visit, which may be a year or two down the road because this good christian country seeks to turn a blind eye on this. Good job Mr. Baker and a thanks to the News Trib for running this story.
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