For five years, Sioux Empire Smiles, a Sioux Empire United Way funded program, has been bringing together area dentists, hygienists, and anesthetists to work together under one roof. Many of these volunteers have returned year after year as the event continues to bring them joy knowing that by sharing their time and skills they are helping children overcome oral health illnesses.
Nearly 46% of South Dakota counties do not have easily accessible dental care. Among that includes families who live in more populated areas such as the Sioux Empire, who may not have the financial ability to help with dental care from six month cleanings to yearly checkups. 100% of tooth decay, gum disease and many other oral health illnesses are preventable, if you have the resources to care for your teeth and gums. Children throughout South Dakota are dealing with this irritable pain every day without resources to help them feel better. Through the help of many community partners and yearly volunteers, Sioux Empire Smiles, is able to provide a one-day free children dental clinic from 8:30am-2pm on the first Saturday of October.
Since the first event in 2014, Sioux Empire Smiles has completed around $300,000 in donated dental services and helped to facilitate the donation of follow-up surgical care from local hospitals and anesthesia services. This year, 131 children received care and over 816 procedures were done for a total of $56,000 donated through in-kind services. Sioux Empire Smiles organizers are carrying the mission out even after the day-long event, ensuring an additional 30 children from the waiting list will receive full preventative care and treatment.
Over 50 volunteers gave their time this year, because they know if a child’s oral health illness can be improved, that child will be able to sleep better at night, eat their favorite meals, and focus during school allowing them to be more successful.
In addition to the many amazing volunteers, this event wouldn’t be possible without the relationship of Delta Dental and the area school districts who help identify children in need of the services. Sioux Empire Smiles sponsors include: Sioux Empire United Way, Delta Dental Foundation, Henry Schein, and Southeast District Dental Society. Other community partners include; Sanford and Avera hospitals, Anesthesia Associates, Professional Insurers, Hy Vee, Jimmy John’s, Coke, Two Way Radio, and Simply Ever After Entertainment.