Non-profit dental clinic helping community

A dental hygienist at Oral Health Partnership examines a patient. (WLUK)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- It started with a single volunteer dentist more than a decade ago.

Now Oral Health Partnership (O.H.P.) in Brown County has three locations, four full-time dentists, and a staff of more than 50.

The non-profit dental clinic has been providing free children’s care to lower income families since 2007. And this year, O.H.P. will serve more than 9,000 kids in Northeast Wisconsin.

O.H.P. has all the bells and whistles of other dental clinics. But as a non-profit, they provide no-cost dental care to kids 18-years-old and younger.

Many staff members have worked in traditional clinics before, but say the benefits of working for a non-profit go far beyond a paycheck.

“It’s really a great feeling, no matter what happens in your day, no matter how crazy things get, you know that you are helping people who would not get helped under any other circumstances,” says Dr. John Sledge. “It lets you sleep pretty good at night.”

Some patients say O.H.P. is providing a vital service that otherwise they might have to live without.

Liz Benecke has been taking her kids, including Parker, to the clinic for the past three years.

“They’ve been able to get us in on an emergency basis,” says Benecke. “Prior to O.H.P., he was starting to miss school, he was having problems eating. All sorts of different problems because of the oral health that he had at that point.”

In addition to Medicaid reimbursement, members of the community have donated funds to the clinic over the years. The executive director says the result is better health for kids both now and later.

“When we started, preventable oral health concerns were the number one leading cause of missed school days,” says Michael Schwartz-Oscar. “And now it no longer is.”

“They’re great,” says Benecke. “They’re phenomenal. They want to help families, and they do help families.”

Every week, O.H.P. also goes into local schools to see kids who may not be able to make it to one of the clinics. O.H.P. currently has about 40 schools on its rotation.

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