"Smiles: AR, U.S."
he Arkansas Oral Health Coalition is a voluntary not-for-profit organization representing oral health interests throughout Arkansas. The Coalition provides leadership to a) formulate and promote sound oral health policy, b) increase awareness of oral health issues and c) assist in promotion of initiatives for the prevention and control of oral diseases. The Coalition has over 40 members and meets monthly except in December to coordinate and support oral health activities. Some of the projects undertaken by the coalition include passage of Act 197 of 2011 insuring access to fluoridated water for Arkansans served by water systems with 5,000 or more customers, Arkansas Mission of Mercy (dental health care event providing over $1,000,000 in free dental care to underserved Arkansans), Governor’s Oral Health Summit (All-day conference on dental public health issues), and Tobacco Free Night at the Ball Parks (children sign tobacco abstinence pledges and receive T-shirts and an official ball park give-a-way with sponsoring logos).
Arkansas Mission of Mercy
The annual Arkansas Mission of Mercy (ARMOM) dental charity event is normally held in May. ARMOM is held at different locations around the state each year in order to address the statewide oral health needs of citizens. More than 700 volunteer dentists, dental hygienists, nurses, physicians, pharmacists and lay persons help approximately 2,000 patients receive needed dental treatment free of charge. The doors opened at 6 a.m. each morning, with hundreds of patients in line, some of whom camp out on the sidewalks overnight. By the time the doors close at 6 p.m. on Saturday, patients from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi have received free dental care, estimated at more than $1,000,000.
Governor’s Oral Health Summit
The Governor’s Oral Health Summit serves as the venue for the Annual Meeting of the Arkansas Oral Health Coalition. The all-day conference provides continuing education on dental issues of importance to everyone with an interest in optimum oral health for all Arkansans. For information on conference dates and times, please contact the Office of Oral Health, 501-661-2595
“Tobacco-Free” Night at the Ballpark
The coalition sponsors a Tobacco-Free Night at ballparks of both the Little Rock Travelers and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Tobacco-Free pledges are presented for signing by children up to 18 years of age; printed T-shirts are distributed, and the “tobacco-free” logo appears on the parks’ official give-a-way item for that night.
Community Water Fluoridation
In 2011, members of the coalition joined forces and successfully convinced the Arkansas General Assembly to approve fluoridation legislation to insured access to the benefits of optimally fluoridated drinking water for all Arkansas Citizens served by a water system with 5,000 or more customers. The Delta Dental Foundation, a coalition member, has pledged to provide access to funding for the 35 water systems affected by the legislation. The coalition is still working to bring these 35 water systems on line with fluoridated water. Once the goal is reached, nearly 87% of Arkansans will have access to the benefits of fluoridated water.