Kinston Community Health Center brings back in-school dental care

LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – An Eastern Carolina school district is bringing back a way to help students maintain a healthy smile.

After a two-year absence due to Covid-19, the in-school dental clinics that Kinston Community Health Center (KCHC) offers with Lenoir County Public Schools (LCPS) returned this week, doing X-rays, cleanings, examinations, and compiling a report card on the state of each student’s oral health – sent home as a way to connect parents with follow-up care for their youngsters at KCHC.

“We’re happy to be back and we hope to see as many kids as we can,” Dr. Francisco Rios said between seeing young patients at Northwest Elementary School on Tuesday.

Rios and his team had not worked in a school since February 2020, on the doorsteps of the pandemic, although more than a hundred K-8 students got help at the clinic last year.

At Northwest, the dental team expected to exam 13 students on its first day back and over the course of the school year will likely see more than 10 times that many during stops at all 13 elementary and middle schools.

“We expect to visit three or four schools before the end of December and then next year we’re going to start again and go to the remaining schools,” said Rios, the clinic’s chief dental officer.

The services of KCHC’s dental clinic are open to students who do not have a regular dentist – a category into which as many as 35 percent of the district’s K-8 students fall, according to Rios. The work is supported financially by The Duke Endowment as part of an oral health strategy that recognizes the impact of poverty and limited access to dental health.

The first step for parents or caretakers who want their students seen at school is to fill out an online registration form, essentially a permission slip. The form can be found here.

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