Rocking Horse to fill gap, serve Clark County kids with no dental care

A local medical provider that serves low-income families in Springfield and Clark County will expand into dentistry soon.

Rocking Horse Community Health Center intends to open a wing at its South Limestone Street center in September to offer dental care predominately to local children.

The need is large in Clark County, Human Resources Director Marianne Aquino said. More than 5,000 local children are without dental services, according to a Clark County Combined Health District survey.

MORE COVERAGE: Special Report: Healthy Springfield

“Fourteen percent of kids in this area have never seen a dentist and 15 percent are in constant tooth pain because their families don’t have the means,” Aquino said, citing stats from the health district survey.

Many reasons exist why a child’s family can’t get them the dental care they need, Aquino said.

“Either they don’t have the insurance, they are unemployed or their jobs don’t offer dental insurance,” she said. “There are so many reasons why kids have this gap and it can lead to not only social issues around poor teeth and gums but it can lead to other physical problems.”

An infection in the mouth can create an abundance of medical problems, she said.

“We have got a lot of kids that we are really hoping we can help by adding this in and that is our entire mission,” Aquino said.

RELATED: Springfield health center CEO wants to better community health

The practice will open in September with three dental chairs, Rocking Horse CEO Kent Youngman said. He hopes to have eight dental chairs ready for patients at the beginning of 2018. The office will likely serve about 70 percent children and 30 percent adults.

“Getting a dentist is our biggest challenge,” Youngman said. “There are fewer pediatric dentists in general.”

Along with hiring a dentist, Rocking Horse also needs to hire a dental hygienist and a dental assistant.

“We offer a lot of things here but a really rich compensation package is not one of them,” Youngman said. “That is not the model that we have. We are looking for someone who has to really want to work with underprivileged kids.”

READ MORE: Clark County health rankings improve, but still low

He said the dentist who comes to Rocking Horse will be serving a community that needs the help.

“An internal survey of ours showed that if our kids have a dentist, they were typically driving to Columbus or Dayton to access them because there is only one local dentist that accepts Medicaid here,” Youngman said. “Which means they don’t go as often.”

The plan has always been to put a dental office in Rocking Horse, Youngman said, and the current building has had an open wing for a while. However the medical center didn’t have enough money to open the offices. But all that changed, thanks to a donation.

“We have a local family who at this point wishes to remain anonymous who donated the amount of money that allows us to finish this and equip the area,” he said.

Rocking Horse is still collecting donations for the dental office, Youngman said. The goal is to raise $100,000 through the end of the year. It’s raised about 65 percent of that goal.

Anyone who would like more information on the new dental wing can call 937-324-1111, ext. 203.

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