Smile Partners provides preventive Oral Health Services, including dental cleaning, screening, sealants and fluoride, plus oral health education and dentist referrals, to low-income children and seniors in the Puget Sound area, through portable and mobile clinics which bring professional dental hygiene teams into schools and senior centers.
Since 2004, Smile Partners' dental hygiene teams have been providing oral screenings, fluoride varnish applications, cleanings, sealants, referrals and oral hygiene instruction to disadvantaged children in preschools and elementary schools throughout out the Puget Sound area.
In 2015 alone, we served more than 10,000 young patients
in over 100 schools where at least half the students receive free
and reduced school lunches. Free or reduced school lunch enrollment rates are a federal designation that provide a key indicator of
the extreme low-income status of the students at a school. Often the rate of FRL enrollment in this low-income program is much higher than our target, with a
range of 60 – 95 percent and an average of 80 percent of students in low-income status.
During the 2015 – 16 school year, Smile Partners is at work in Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Tukwila, Seattle, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap, Belfair, Everett, Mukilteo, Arlington, Marysville and Edmonds.
Smile Partners also serves seniors in Kitsap County through its Smiles for Life program at the Waterfront Park Community Center in Winslow, Bainbridge Island.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting nearly six out of ten
children by third grade. Children from low-income homes can have three
times the number of cavities as their peers. Yet, the majority of
children in disadvantaged households in Washington state do not receive
dental care. Most children from low-income families do not have dental
insurance. Those who have Medicaid coverage often can't find
providers that accept it.
In surveys, children and their families regularly chose oral health care as the number one priority for non-academic services delivered in their schools.
These children in King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Mason counties, as well as the children from newly arrived refugee families, are our clients. We also count low-income seniors as our clients. Despite the affluence of Bainbridge Island, the community where we are based, many elderly residents here and elsewhere in Kitsap County can’t afford the most basic preventive oral health services without assistance. Several health and wellness surveys on the island have shown that oral health care is a number one priority here too.