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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

CHARLOTTE — This summer refugee children received free dental exams and sealants as part of a partnership with the N.C. Oral Health Division of Public Health.

This was the first year that Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Office partnered with the state to provide these free services to refugee children during the refugee youth summer camp held in July, said Kailey Otten, program director for Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte.

More than $7,500 in dental work was performed, including exams for 11 children and 117 sealed teeth, according to Prissy Helms, a public health dental hygienist. All campers also received toothbrushes, floss, toothbrush covers, sunglasses and bookbags.

The summer camp is for children who recently arrived to the United States to help them learn English and classroom etiquette, Otten said. This year’s camp had students ranging in age from 7 to 14.

“It’s a great program,” Otten said. “They explained everything to the kids and had information translated to the different languages for them to bring home for the parents to consent.

“They brought everything to perform the exams. They were wonderful with the children. They made it really easy on them.”

Most of the children had been to a dentist before after arriving in this country, but they may not have a family dentist to see for routine care, Otten said.

This was the first year the refugee office partnered with the state to provide these free exams, Otten said. Participation was open to refugee families as well and they hope if they can continue this program, there will be a higher participation next year.

— Kimberly Bender, online reporter