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Unique Partnership Brings Dental Care to Leon County Students

Tom Flanigan

Hundreds of students in Leon County’s schools are receiving free basic dental care. It’s a joint effort of the school district, the Florida Department of Health in Leon County and the United Way of the Big Bend.

Fort Braden School Principal Jimbo Jackson said the “Smile United” program as it’s called, served more than 200 of his students last year alone.

“We can catch them early on as second graders and then remind them of all those good habits for dental health as sixth graders,” he told reporters during a demonstration of the program at his school on Tuesday (5/10).

R. Jai Gillum with United Way of the Big Bend said the free in-school dental hygiene program has been running for the past two years.

“The priority here is preventive care for our students making sure we provide sealants for them to be able to help prevent cavities later on in life, but we also do some really important things,” she explained. “The hygienists teach them about proper brushing and making sure they are seeing their dentist and getting their services regularly.”

Including Fort Braden School, the program now serves a total of nearly 1,000 thousand students in Leon County.