The Impact of School Dental Screenings

 In PVF News

We know that quality and early dental care is critical for good health and lack of care is related to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Yet, many children and adults in San Mateo County do not have access to affordable services.

To address this problem, Sonrisas, a nonprofit dental center, was founded in 2001 to provide access to quality dental care and oral health education to low income families on the Coastside. It expanded in 2015 with a second site in San Mateo with new technology and equipment including special equipment to serve patients with special needs and a mobile unit to serve those with mobility and access limitations, including farm workers on the Coastside.

Gabriella is one of the over 4,000 persons served this last year, and over 900 children seen through its school screening program.


Gabriella moved from Honduras and was found at the San Bruno Park school during the school screening program. The Sonrisas team found the six year old had abscesses and tooth decay throughout her mouth which were causing severe pain. It took 6 visits to restore her oral health and now she will be seen regularly for 6 month cleanings and exams funded through enrollment in the Medi-Cal Dental program.

It surprised me to learn that 56% percent of the children we screened had visible decay and 6% of those were in need for urgent dental attention, some with exposed nerves in their molars due to decay,” said Tracey Fetcher, CEO of Sonrisas. “We believe all children in San Mateo County deserve to not have severe dental pain, and the ability to see a dentist.

PVF is proud to have been there in the beginning with Sonrisas when they opened their doors in 2001, and through generous community donors, continue to support the program as they grow and serve more children and families. Sonrisas means ‘smile” in Spanish and that is the gift that has been given to so many families and made such a difference in their lives.

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