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Hawaiʻi Dental Service celebrates 60th anniversary by donating smile kits to keiki

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From left: Deborah Mattheus and Kenna Gardes of Hawaii Keiki; Rachel Faasau of Cardinal Mailing Services LTD; and Kahala Howser of Hawaii Dental Service.

Hawaiʻi Dental Service, the state’s leading dental benefits provider, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year by giving HDS Smile Kits to more than 11,000 kindergarten children in 208 Title I schools throughout the state, including 37 charter schools, beginning in May 2022.

Title I schools have high percentages of children from low-income families and these schools receive federal financial assistance to meet state academic standards. The HDS Smile Kits contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, a small toy, and an HDS oral health activity booklet.

In celebration of its 60th Anniversary, Hawaii Dental Service is distributing HDS Smile kits to more than 11,000 children in 208 Title I schools throughout the state. HDS Smile Kits will have a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a toy and an oral health activity booklet.

“Hawaiʻi Dental Service began 60 years ago by 15 pioneering and visionary dentists to make oral health care more accessible for everyone in our community. The keiki of the Hawaiʻi Stevedores union employees were the first to receive coverage from HDS,” said Dr. Diane Paloma, HDS president and CEO. “Today, we’re proud to carry on this commitment that began with our founding dentists by extending coverage to keiki and other family members and continually looking at ways to improve the oral health of our community.”

Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn, a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, is assisting Hawaiʻi Dental Service in distributing the HDS Smile Kits to schools.

This HDS anniversary community initiative is just one of several major oral health-related programs that HDS has launched in the last few years to develop school-based preventive care programs and education for Hawaiʻi’s students:

  • “Seal Away Decay,” an HDS Foundation initiative that began two years ago in partnership with Hawaiʻi Keiki to provide oral assessments and sealants in high-need public schools by a team of dental professionals.
  • “Gear Up with Mouthguards for Student Athletes,” is an HDS program distributing fitted mouthguards to student athletes throughout Hawaiʻi. Last year, HDS partnered with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Oʻahu Interscholastic Association, Interscholastic League of Honolulu, Maui Interscholastic League, Kauaʻi Interscholastic Federation, and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation to distribute 10,000 mouthguards, valued at $250,000, for student athletes in 90 Hawaiʻi public, charter and private high schools. The program will continue as new partnerships are formed with additional youth sports leagues in Hawaiʻi. HDS continues that commitment to protect the oral health of youth and to minimize the impact of concussions.
  • In 2021, the HDS Foundation gave $1.6 million to numerous community programs to promote oral health education, prevent oral disease and improve access to oral health care throughout the state with nearly 10% of this total earmarked for oral health education and prevention. On this anniversary year, the HDS Foundation continues its commitment to support more community programs to promote good oral health in the state.

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