LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – Dental health care grants are working to bring healthier smiles to local counties and opening the door for low-income communities to be able to receive dental services and oral hygiene educational resources.
Some fear it, forget about it or can’t afford it. Semi-annual dentist appointments are essential to keeping your entire body and immune system healthy, local dental hygienists at Little River Medical Center say.
However, there is a gap between health care and the number of people covered that has presented a large population of Horry County, Florence, and Georgetown without dental or medical insurance.
“There are not enough dentists to serve the number of low-income patients much less the total population,” Pamela Davis, CEO of Little River Medical Center said.
Duke Endowment and Delta Dental are both providers supporting dental care assistance through grant funding to community outreach programs or local medical centers. The grants will allow dentists to go into low-income communities and provide dental care where help is calling.
Nearly 3,000 students across 24 Horry County schools and multiple non-profit organizations will have access to free or a low rate for dental services including teeth cleanings, extractions, fillings.
The amount of employees with a lack of insurance comes as many work in the service industry where medical and dental service is not provided, according to Davis. Forty-six percent of patients between their two offices in Little River and Carolina Forest qualify for low-income benefits.
“We offer a sliding fee scale for our patients so if they are at or below 200 percent of poverty they don’t pay full rate for the services we offer,” Davis said.
Hygienists see people come in with pain and attribute lack of dental care resulting in more work needing to be done that a patient visiting regularly. “When they come in you see rampant caries everywhere, a lot of plaque, calculus, tartar underneath the gums,” Brittany Cail, a dental hygienist at Little River Medical Center said. “We’ve also had people who break down and cry because they didn’t know there was such a need to come in.”
Delta Dental granted $500,000 to community outreach programs across South Carolina including Florence and Georgetown. Applications for the state’s first 2020 grant cycle of its 2020 Oral Health Care Grant Program are now being accepted.