WATERVILLE — More than 350 central Maine children have begun receiving preventive dental care because of a $20,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine.

RMHC of Maine Executive Director Robin Chibroski gathered with leaders from Waterville Community Dental Center and Kennebec Valley Community Action Program on Oct. 19 to celebrate the grant received by the dental center to fund the purchase of equipment and supplies to provide on-site dental care to children 1-5 years old in Head Start daycare and preschool programs throughout the region, according to a news release from RMHC.

The grant was one of three grants recently given by RMHC of Maine to organizations seeking to improve children’s oral health. A total of more than $69,000 was awarded to the grant recipients.

“The collaborative approach Waterville Community Dental Center is taking to address preventive dental care for children in central Maine is just the kind of effort the RMHC Maine Grants Program seeks to support,” said Chibroski, according to the release.

Waterville Community Dental Center is a nonprofit, full-service dental center that provides quality oral healthcare services targeted toward low-income, uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid-eligible populations throughout central Maine.

The dental center has partnered with KVCAP for more than a decade to bring dental services and oral health education to children in Head Start programs who otherwise would not receive dental care. Teams comprised of a dentist, a hygienist and support staff began visiting Head Start sites two weeks ago, and visits will continue through early December before restarting in the spring.

“During my 40 years of work as a dental hygienist I have seen the impact that early dental care can have on the long term health of children and their families,” said Waterville Community Dental Center Hygienist Hope Ricker, according to the release. “It’s a joy to work with these children, many arriving nervous or scared, but by the end of their examination, dental cleaning, and fluoride treatment, they leave with a smile, and an appreciation that getting dental care can be easy and fun.”

Ricker and KVCAP Child and Family Services Health and Nutrition Manager Joanne Burns accepted the RMHC Maine grant check from Chibroski. RMHC of Maine board member and Maine McDonald’s Owner/Operator Mike Ortins hosted the gathering at his Kennedy Memorial Drive McDonald’s restaurant.

For more information about the grant program, visit, rmhcmaine.org/grants.

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