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RP Health Center expands access to dental service for children & teens

February 16, 2018

By Irene Hilsendager

On Friday, Feb. 2, the Rohnert Park Health Center provided free dental cleanings, exams and treatments to over 50 children and teens as part of their Give Kids a Smile celebration. Give Kids a Smile is a national campaign of the American Dental Association, the purpose of which is to ensure that all low income and uninsured children have access to high quality prevention focused dental care.

“Imagine sitting in a classroom trying to learn geometry when you have a toothache,” said Chief Administrative Officer Pedro Toledo. “Now imagine that you have had a toothache for the last three weeks with no relief in sight. This is the situation of hundreds of low-income children in Sonoma County who lack access to affordable dental care.”

Rohnert Park Health Center’s Dental Clinic, which provides over 35,000 dental visits a year, is part of the Petaluma Health Center (PHC) and the largest dental provider in the North bay. Dr. Ramona English DMD, PGC’s Chief Dental Officer and founder of the Dental clinic, notes that “Our team of dentists, doctors and optometrists at the Rohnert Park Health Center are committed to ensuring that all children in our community have the opportunity to succeed in school.”

In 2002, Dr. Jeff Dalin and Dr. B. Ray Storm held the first Give Kids a Smile event in a run-down soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic in St. Louis, where 15 patient chairs were scraped together to deliver free dental care to nearly 400 children.

The American Dental Association recognized that this grassroots effort had great potential to raise awareness nationally about the importance of oral health to overall health. 

Today, Give Kids A Smile is the ADA Foundation’s signature access to oral health care program for underserved children, with events taking place throughout the year. These events kick off annually on the first Friday in February. Thousands of dentists and volunteers give their time to provide free oral health education, screenings and treatment to underserved children.

The Petaluma Health Center is committed to ensuring that all children and teens have access to affordable dental care year- round. PHC accepts insurance provided by Partnership Health Plan and Medi-Cal and offers a sliding fee scale for uninsured children based on income and family size.

The Rohnert Park Health Center is a part of the Petaluma Health Center and is the largest dental provider in the North Bay with 29 dental chairs and provides about 150,000 health care visits to 35,000 residents of Central and Southern Sonoma County each year.