Project Smile – Promotes Good Dental Health Among Our Youngest Citizens
Project Smile – Fostering Good Dental Health From The Start
Brains, CHECK! Beauty, CHECK! Work Ethic, CHECK! Few people can refute the Army’s slogan, “We do more by 9am than most people do all day.”; however, Dr. Misee Harris is one professional that can proudly do so.
The alarm in the Harris household might as well double as a rooster with it’s systematic 5am signal to the beginning of another day. This work ethic is not new for the University of Kentucky graduate where she earned a Doctorate of Dental Medicine Degree in 2011. Dr. Warren Bennis describes leadership as the capacity to translate vision into reality. In 2013, Dr. Harris epitomized this trait as the first African-American woman accepted into the University of Kentucky Pediatric residency program – a historic accomplishment.
Project smile was started as a way to provide affordable dental care for children from low-income families. According to a recent statistic, over 30% of all childrens health expenditures are dental related. Further, tooth decay is the single most prevalent childhood chronic disease. In fact, lower income children visit the dentist less frequently and thus are among the children that are most afflicted with dental disease. Children from families with low incomes have nearly 12 times the restricted activity days (e.g. days for missed school) because of dental problems, as children from families with higher incomes. In 2013, here comes Dr. Harris to the rescue by combining her expertise, leadership and advocacy by founding Project Smile (an organization which focuses on uplifting the self-esteem of young adults in all aspects of their life.)
Through her concerted, grassroots outreach programs and healthcare initiatives, she has produced significant gains in the equality of diagnosis and treatment options available to the families of thousands of children with urgent dental needs.
Goals of Project Smile:
Identify communities nationwide that have low access to dental care.
Increase public awareness of oral health care disparities and create an understanding of the determinants of proper home oral hygiene techniques.
Provide dental examinations, preventative dental sealants, and comprehensive dental care to help children ages 4-18 and promote quality of life, healthy development, healthy eating habits and healthy living habits in children who are from low-income and rural areas
Scope of the problem:
Tooth decay is the single most prevalent chronic childhood disease.
In the U.S., over 30% of all children’s health expenditures are devoted to dental care.
Dental sealants are protective coatings applied on the top surfaces of permanent molars to prevent carious lesions (cavities) from developing.
Low-income children visit the dentist less frequently and thus are among the children who are most commonly afflicted with dental disease.
Early childhood caries affects approximately 11% of children under the age of 5 and costs more than $3,000 to treat each child.
Dr. Misee Harris is the amalgamation of all things great with the growing breed of social activists that utilize their requisite skill set coupled with unbridled drive to make the World a better place. BRAVO – We anxiously await what is next!