‘Miles of Smiles’ clinic brings dental care directly to students

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BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) —It’s the first day of school for Carteret County students, and it is also the first day of dental clinicals at Beaufort Elementary.

The pop-up dental shop “Miles of Smiles” is meant to make good hygiene easy for students and their parents.

An 18-wheeler parked in the back lot of Beaufort Elementary transforms into a full-fledged dentist office once you go inside

It’s a mobile dental unit that goes around to schools in Carteret County and provides dental care to students on Medicaid and N.C. Health Choice.

“We get permission forms from the parents, so we take the kids directly out of clas,” said Dr. Steven Smith, Miles of Smiles dentist. “The parents don’t have to remember the appointment.”

The goal is to make it easy on the parents.

“We eliminate the need for the parents to have to take time off of work, and they also don’t miss as much school because they just come out here to get their work done, their cleanings done, their fillings done, and go back into the classroom,” said Johnna Whitfield, dental hygienist.

Miles of Smiles said some local dentists have stopped taking children on Medicaid and let them come to the dental mobile unit instead for convenience and problems with appointments.

Beaufort County Elementary Principal Deanne Rosen said the school and its students are happy to have it in their backyard for the start of the school year.

“It’s a small area,” said Rosen. “There’s not a lot of dentists. They have to worry about transportation, which is an issue for our families. It’s just easily accessible right here on our campus.”

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