Dental hygienist helps thousands of students smile

Since starting Saving Smiles six years ago, Tracey Jowett has helped around 1,300 students in Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Kennebec counties with dental care. 
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BROOKS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There are 24 schools in Maine with big smiles because of a mobile unit.

Saving Smiles was formed six years ago by Tracey Jowett. The dental hygienist took her mission of offering free dental care on the road tow years ago, visiting students at schools with a mobile unit. She visits schools within RSU 3, 12 and 13 in Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Kennebec counties. 

"It's hard to have access to care for kids, especially if they have limited insurance, no insurance, or Maine Care insurance," said Jowett. "There's often times limitations of how many offices will take into their practice."

An appointment with Saving Smiles comes at no cost to parents. Jowett has given brushing advice, teeth cleanings and dentist referrals to around 1,300 students. Erica Hanks, fifth grader at Morse Elementary School, takes the dental advice she's given and puts it to practice at home twice a day.

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"I really think cavities are gross, so I try to take care of my teeth the best I can," said Hanks.

Saving Smiles is funded through sponsors and private donations, costing around $40,000 a year to operate. 
There's a supervising dentist that oversees Jowett's work and she's currently looking for a second dental hygienist to join the program and help with teeth cleanings at schools.