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Children’s Clinic to expand dental services to Fort Drum

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FORT DRUM — The North Country Children’s Clinic recently received a $6,919 grant from the state Dental Foundation to implement a preventive dentistry program at Fort Drum.

The clinic received one of three “Give Kids a Smile” awards the foundation gave for its efforts to improve children’s oral health in upstate New York. The grant, which came along with the award, will allow the clinic to add fluoride treatments and free dental screenings to its Baby Teeth Basics project, which provides dental education to Fort Drum parents.

Baby Teeth Basics is also funded by the Fort Drum Officers Wives Club and the Samaritan Auxiliary.

“Our concern had been seeing children at 2 or 3 already having a mouth full of cavities,” said Judith R. Overton, the clinic’s director of dental services. “We had decided we see a lot of Fort Drum families at our dental clinic and WIC clinic, and we could collaborate with WIC to bring our services right onto Fort Drum.”

Dental screenings, fluoride treatments and educational packets will be provided by a licensed dental hygienist, at no cost to families, at WIC clinics held at Mountain Community Homes community centers at Adirondack Creek and Rhicard Hills. Mrs. Overton said the project is expected to serve about 800 families on the post over the next 12 months.

Mrs. Overton said the grant will help the Fort Drum population because soldiers and their families who have recently moved to the area may not have a dentist.

Teaching young children proper oral hygiene at an early age is the key to clean, healthy teeth well into adulthood, she said.

Another problem, she said, is a shortage of pediatric-specific dental services in Northern New York. While there are many general dentists around, there is only one pediatric dentist in Jefferson County — Dr. Andrew A. Beuttenmuller.

The project will kick off at 1 p.m. today at the WIC Clinic at Rhicard Hills Community Center. A presentation of the “Give Kids a Smile” award will also take place.

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