February 26, 2019
Protecting Children's Smiles: EveryStep's I-Smile Program
Dr. Nick Barnard knew he wanted to use his dental practice to help children of all socio-economic backgrounds. However, the Iowa native found it sometimes difficult to meet the needs of these families.
"With our doors wide open we frequently found ourselves in a hard situation with families that didn’t qualify for state assistance but didn’t have the funds to help treat their children that sometimes desperately needed work done to get them out of pain or prevent infection," Dr. Barnard notes.
That's when Dr. Barnard's operating room coordinator reached out to the I-Smile™ program for help.
Getting uninsured and underinsured children the dental care they need to thrive is the goal of the Iowa Department of Public Health program offered by EveryStep. The I-Smile™ program, which began in 2006, reaches all 99 counties, providing pregnant women and children under the age of 21 with dental screenings and fluoride treatments, referring dental providers, assisting in transportation and payment needs.
EveryStep has facilitated the I-Smile™ program in Dallas, Polk, Clinton, and Jackson counties since its inception in 2006. EveryStep coordinates screenings and fluoride varnish treatments and coordinate referrals to dental providers who will take Medicaid for children at Head Starts, preschools that are funded through Early Childhood Iowa, WIC clinics, as well as at some public and private schools.
In 2018, EveryStep assisted more than 2,094 children and pregnant women to receive dental screenings, oral health education sessions and referrals to providers - such as Dr. Barnard - who accept Medicaid for dental concerns and emergencies.
And so, for the past three years, Dr. Barnard has turned to the program when families needed help the most. Five days out of the month, Dr. Barnard treats children under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. Thanks to his intervention and the I-Smile™ program, many children with severe dental decay or oral care needs now have brighter smiles.
"As a provider that specializes in treating children, I strive that every child has a dental home," Dr. Barnard said. "I couldn’t be more appreciative of the program helping families that need a little assistance here and there to help their children get the care they need."