About the U.P. Smiles Initiative



NEW: SPRING 2015 UPDATE: U.P. Wide Smiles project flourishing

Last fall, the Superior Health Foundation funded the “U.P. Wide Smiles” project, an initiative developed through a collaboration of all six U.P. health departments. The goals of the project are to support oral health for all area children by focusing on prevention.  The project will broaden awareness about oral health issues, increase access to fluoride varnish for children 0-5 years, establish school-based fluoride rinse programs for children in K-5th grades, link children with dental homes and build collaborative networks to address oral health needs across the U.P. going forward.

The project is off to a great start!  Local media have been wonderfully receptive to monthly press releases on oral health.  There have been multiple TV spots about oral health prevention and the U.P. Wide Smiles on WLUC TV6, WJMN TV 3 and WBUP 5 &10.  Print articles have appeared in papers across the U.P., such as the Escanaba Daily Press, Ontonagon Herald, The Mining Journal and the Iron Mountain Daily News, to name a few.  Networks are growing daily as project staff work with parents, schools, provider offices, hospitals, Head Starts and childcare centers, dentists/dental societies and other organizations.

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In October, Smiles on Wheels, an Upper Peninsula 501 (c) 3 which offers dental services to children in a school-based setting across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was awarded $15,000 from the Superior Health Foundation at its Fall Grants Program as part of the SHF’s Improving Oral Health For Children campaign.

According to Katherine J. Holsworth, RDH, Smiles on Wheels’ oral health program is delivered by licensed dental hygienists operating under Public Act 161.

In the second quarter of 2014, the following schools participated:

  • Bark River-Harris
  • West Iron/Iron River
  • Webster
  • Norway
  • Lemmer
  • Carney-Nadeau
  • Menominee Blesch
  • Menominee Catholic
  • Manistique Catholic
  • Manistique Elementary
  • Gwinn

In the third quarter, the following schools participated:

  • Gwinn
  • Menominee Central
  • Escanaba schools pending: Upper Elementary and Soo Hill.


Many of the school visits were rescheduled throughout the remaining school year as Smiles on Wheels needed to return to the school to complete those students who had positive consents.  During these rescheduled visits, Smiles on Wheels will perform retention checks on previously placed sealants.

All schools have rescheduled with Smiles on Wheels for the 2015-2016 school year.

Below are Smiles on Wheels Upper Peninsula statistics for its first quarter:

Number of children provided oral health education- 1,907

Number of children who received dental sealants- 269

Total number of sealants placed – 817

Number of children who had oral screenings, but did not receive sealants – 163


Boy being worked on in chair
Boy in chair
Child in chair getting teeth worked on
Child with water bottle



Media Coverage

NEWS: Upper Michigan Source

NEWS: August 6th, 2015 ABC10 Flouride is on your side story

NEWS:August 10, 2015 from WJMNTV3  http://www.upmatters.com/news-upmatters/teaching-new-parents-and-children-about-dental-care

NEW: Mining Journal Progress Report

March 31 2015 Progress Report Mining Journal









Click Here: Oral health Article Mining Journal Article



NEW: Action Shopper Story on Oral Health Initiative

Action Shopper April 2015









NEW: Ontonagon Herald Story on Oral Health  Initiative

NEW: Ontonagon Herald story on oral health initiative.










NEW: ABC 10 Story on Keeping A Health Smile During Pregnancy
NEW: Fluoride program supports students’ dental health – TV6 News

NEW: Improving Kids Oral Health in the U.P. – U.P. Matters
About the SHF proactive grant-giving campaign
U.P. Wide Smiles Project – Marquette County Health Department
Oral Health Aims to Curb Childhood Dental Decay – ABC 10 UP
Open Wide and Say ‘AHH’! – The Daily Press

Helping children establish good, life-long dental habits from the beginning by overseeing brushing and flossing, maintaining regular dentist office visits, and providing nutritionally balanced meals without excess sugar is the best way to ensure that children grow up with healthy teeth and gums, as well as good overall long-term health. Make your home an encouraging environment that not only supports your child’s proper dental hygiene, but reinforces the many reasons why daily dental care is so critical. Children who are healthy and happy do not hesitate to smile. And those with healthy, white teeth can flash that smile with confidence.

What you teach your children about brushing and flossing today may help them avoid complicated dental procedures tomorrow. While good dental health is critical for everyone, regardless of age, instilling healthy habits in kids early may prevent the dread typically associated with climbing into the dentist’s chair. By creating a home environment that sets a positive example for your children, you’ll turn dentist visits into stress-free occasions.

UntitledIt’s important to remember that the health of your children’s teeth and gums can have a direct impact on their overall health. While poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease, decay, and tooth loss, the bad news doesn’t stop there. Research suggests that the inflammation from periodontal, or gum disease, puts one at a greater risk for diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

Even your wallet can feel the effects. Cavities resulting from a lack of care will result in expensive procedures to restore the health of the tooth, or if left untreated, remove the tooth.

With modern dental treatment and fluoride toothpastes, serious dental complications can be avoided completely. For children, there are now sealants to protect new teeth and, of course, regular cleanings and fluoride treatments to combat cavities. A dentist and hygienist can recommend procedures that will be beneficial for your children, as well as show them proper brushing technique.

Caring for your child’s teeth

Good dental care can start as soon as your baby’s teeth are visible, which typically begins at ­approximately four months of age. Initially, you may want to use a washcloth to clean your child’s teeth and eventually move to a small toothbrush. Also, begin Untitled2regular dental appointments for your child during his or her first year. This will give your child a chance to get used to the dentist and get comfortable with these new surroundings, all of which will make future dental appointments much easier.

Although you may think that it is not necessary to emphasize dental habits until adult teeth begin to come in around age six, baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent teeth, and damage to them can cause substantial problems later. Baby teeth need to avoid cavities through a child’s early years. In addition, smart dental habits established at a young age will set the stage for life-long healthy habits. Children who have brushed their teeth or had them brushed since they were babies are more likely to understand the importance of this as they grow and develop permanent teeth.

Helpful reminders

  • Dental problems can affect the self-esteem of children, making them reluctant to smile or engage in conversation.
  • Poor dental care can results in poor nutrition and sleep problems for children.
  • Tooth decay can be caused by formula, breast milk and juice sitting against the teeth. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle, and continuous use of a sippy cup with sweet drinks should be avoided.
  • Drinking water is ideal for developing teeth.
  • Children should begin regular dental visits at age one.
  • Children should have their teeth brushed as soon as they appear.
  • Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Get regular check-ups.


The Healthy Teeth, Happy Kids campaign is financially supported by the Superior Health Foundation and guided by a team of dental health professionals who have seen firsthand the startling incidence of oral disease in the mouths of Upper Peninsula children.

The goal of the Healthy Teeth, Happy Kids campaign is to have all Upper Peninsula children seen by a dentist by their first birthday. Establishing a dental home for a child by age one may eliminate the need for dental fillings by age two.

Additional resources

For additional information on how you can improve the oral health for your family, visit the links below:





For assistance in finding a dentist near you, including low-income options, visit the links below: