Franklin County soon will have its first dental clinic that will accept patients who qualify for Medicaid, and it will kick off its official opening with a day of free dental care for children. That will take place Friday, June 22.
The Optima Institute Outreach Dental Clinic is owned and operated by Dr. Michael Edwards who also owns Optima Dental Group.
Each year, Optima Dental Group treats up to 140 adults in a day of free dental care, offering cleanings, fillings and extractions. The most recent was May 18.
“We’ve actually been wanting to offer free dentistry to children for a long time,” said Edwards. “Having our new Outreach Clinic will allow us to serve kids whose need is just as great as the adults.”
The day of free dental care for children will be a first come-first served event. But unlike the one for adults where patients are required to wait in line, children will be preregistered and given specific appointment times.
Parents can preregister their children by calling toll free 888-776-5309. Parents will be asked to leave all pertinent patient information including a phone number where clinic staffers can call with the child’s appointment time.
“We’re assuming some of these children have never been to a dentist before, so they’ll already be anxious,” said Edwards. “We don’t want them getting even more upset by having to wait in line.”
The Optima Institute Outreach Dental Clinic will be working in conjunction with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Healthy Kids Express Dental Van.
The van is like a dentist’s office on wheels. It’s complete with two dental chairs, a dentist and a dental assistant. This mobile dental office travels to schools and community centers throughout the St. Louis area treating underprivileged children whose families can’t afford regular dental care.
The services being offered at the Optima Institute’s free dental event will be cleanings, restorative work such as fillings and crowns, and sealants. Extremely anxious patients can be given nitrous oxide (laughing gas) with the parent’s permission. Children who need to be sedated, or unconscious, will not be able to receive free dental work.
After the day of free dental care for children, the Optima Institute Outreach Dental Clinic will be open to all patients who qualify for Medicare or can prove they cannot be treated at a traditional dental office. The Outreach Clinic, however, will not file for Medicare reimbursement. This will be a cash-only clinic, but the costs will be as much as 90 percent less than other typical dental offices fees.
The Optima Institute Outreach Dental Clinic is located at 122 W. Main St., directly above Optima Dental Group. Clinic doctors and hygienists will be available by appointment only. This facility will not treat walk-in patients.
In addition to offering free and reduced-cost dentistry, Optima Institute is now enrolling students in its new Dental Assisting Program. For information and to download an application, go to www.optimainstitute.org.