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Case Western Reserve dental students bring 'Healthy Smiles' to CMSD

Healthy teeth affect overall health but in urban school districts like Cleveland, many children don't have the opportunity to see a dentist.

That's where the free Healthy Smiles program fills a gap. Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins tells us why at-risk kids may fall through the cracks.

Alja Austin is a seventh grader who has taken advantage of the Healthy Smiles program since second grade.

Dentistry students from Case Western Reserve University's School of Dentistry not only put protective sealant on kids' teeth, the program also finds dentists for those in need to be treated for free.

There's a desperate need in Cleveland.

A bad tooth can kill you and they see kids where they're beyond pain, the tooth is actually rotted down to the quick, the roots are gone in the tooth and we're talking second grade.

When the program started eleven years ago, they had nearly 100 percent participation. But since the district laid off nearly two-thirds of the school nurses, participation has dropped to just 60 percent, putting at-risk kids in more danger.

There are 23 school nurses covering the district's nearly 40,000 students.

It's those nurses who get the consent forms signed by the parents to help get kids into the program.

Now that they're gone, many kids in need are getting left out.

If Issue 107 passes, more nurses will be made available so Cleveland kids can continue having healthy smiles.