Adopt a Smile; Operation Grace brings free dental care to those in need


Ellie Barnett-Cashman

Lisa Anderson, a dental worker for Operation Grace, records information about that day at the dental clinic. “What we have done for [the students] is clean their teeth which is a really important thing to stay healthy and provide preventative care in the form of fluorides for their healthy teeth,” said Anderson.

Ellie Barnett-Cashman, Staff Writer

From May 13th-16th, South collaborated with Operation Grace, a Christian organization to help students without dental insurance or access to dental care. This gave students an opportunity to meet with dental specialists in order to get their teeth cleaned or checked on. “Our mission is just to reach out to all people who don’t have access to dental care,” said Lisa Anderson, an Operation Grace worker providing care.

Students simply had to make appointments and bring in permission forms and medical history forms signed by parents or guardians in order to receive care. By the end, they helped over 20 students who otherwise would not have been able to be given those services. “So far we think we helped a total of 20 students. We helped them get cleanings, screenings, x-rays, and three of those students got re-appointed for further care,” said Jennifer Lucke, health teacher and Normandale staff who facilitated the dental clinic.

The clinic was directed towards those whose families are unable to provide dentistry for their children. “[The dental clinic was] an opportunity for students who don’t have dental insurance or access to dental care to receive dental care that we all take for granted if we have parents or adults in our lives who help take care of our teeth,” said Lucke.

Operation Grace does a lot of work at other schools around South, so Lucke figured it was time to bring that opportunity to South. “They have been in other schools in the Minneapolis Public School district so I decided that here at South we have quite a few students who are in need,” said Lucke.

The workers had a very fond view of South students and of how the clinic went at South. “This has been a very successful clinic, we’re very happy with it, we have a very nice room to work in. We were just saying how respectful the students we have seen are, they’re very mature, they’ve been very polite and we just have a very favorable opinion of South High,” said Anderson.

Students were overall very grateful to be receiving the dental care for health and visual reasons. “I got to talk to a couple of students who were in the room and they were very appreciative of the care,” said Lucke. Anderson said that after the appointments “[the students] often get out their phone and look and I think they’re very pleased with how nice their teeth look.”

The only challenge with the students was that some weren’t quite sure what to expect, so some students were somewhat fearful, considering it was their first time at the dentist. “A couple of them have been nervous because they’ve never been to the dentist,” said Anderson.

Operation Grace hopes to return next fall and follow up again in the spring. “I hope we can come back next year and reach out to more people because often when we start out it’s kind of slow because people are unaware of what it is,” said Anderson. “We would definitely like to have them come back,” added Lucke.