Event will honor low income pregnant and newly postpartum women who are taking charge of their oral health

BELLEVILLE, NJ — The KinderSmile Foundation (KSF), a nonprofit pediatric dental home and community outreach center based in Bloomfield, NJ, serving the oral health needs of uninsured, underserved children (0-17 yrs.), is proud to announce its inaugural SMILE! Awards on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 from 8:30 am to 11:30 am in The Learning Center at Clara Maass Medical Center. The Medical Center is located at 1 Clara Maass Drive in Belleville.

The SMILE! Awards will honor low-income pregnant and expecting moms living in Essex County, primarily Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, East Orange, Nutley and Montclair, who have graduated from KinderSmile Foundation’s Perinatal Health and Wellness Program. These fearless females are taking charge of their oral health and that of their newborns, infants and children by linking them to a nonprofit pediatric dental home where they can receive ongoing treatment, education and preventive care. Additional awardees will include business and community advocates who have supported KinderSmile Foundation, including the founding funders of the KinderSmile Perinatal Health & Wellness Program: Partners for Health Foundation and The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.

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Joining the program is the First Lady of the State of New Jersey Tammy Murphy will join the celebration as guest, keynote speaker and SMILE! Awards presenter and recipient. The First Lady is a supporter of KinderSmile Foundation and its proactive, preventive approach to eradicating dental disease in low-income communities, and of oral health equity in general. In July of 2019, Governor Phil Murphy appointed Darwin Hayes, DDS MHA FAGD, New Jersey’s first state dental director in 30 years, to address the oral health needs of all New Jersey residents, including vulnerable populations.

“Giving birth to a new child is an exciting time, especially for the graduates of the perinatal and wellness program. Thanks to the KinderSmile Foundation, new and expecting mothers are empowered to take charge of their health-- including their oral health for themselves, their new babies and their entire families and we are grateful to have such a meaningful and rewarding partnership with The KinderSmile Foundation” said Dr. Mary Ellen Clyne, President and Chief Executive Officer of Clara Maass Medical Center. 

“By linking expecting and newly postpartum moms who are uninsured and do not meet the qualifications of NJ FamilyCare and Medicaid, their newborns and their children to our

nonprofit pediatric dental home, we can be proactive about oral health and break the dangerous, generational cycle of untreated dental disease,” says Nicole McGrath-Barnes, DDS, Founder and CEO, KinderSmile Foundation.

Tickets are $75, and a limited number of tickets and sponsorships are available online at http://www.kindersmile.org/smileawards/. Proceeds from the event will benefit the KSF Perinatal Health & Wellness Program and the Women’s Health Clinic at Clara Maass Medical Center, a facility of RWJBarnabas Health.

Now in its third year, the KinderSmile Perinatal Health & Wellness Program teaches expecting and newly postpartum moms the importance of practicing proper oral hygiene and healthy nutrition while they are pregnant, after childbirth and beyond. Moms are invited to attend two complimentary culturally-appropriate educational classes (totaling three hours) led by a certified hygienist who is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Upon completion of the classes, moms receive a year’s worth of free dental care ($1,500 to $4,000 value) to treat ongoing issues and prevent new dental problems from occurring. Treatment and prevention are critical as pregnant and postpartum women are at a heightened risk for cavities, and cavity causing bacteria can be transmitted to fetus, newborn and infant.

“One of the most gratifying aspects of our Perinatal Health & Wellness Program is the sense of empowerment and confidence that our moms feel upon graduation,” notes Nicole Whittam, COO of KinderSmile Foundation. “With education, encouragement and access to comprehensive dental care, our moms take charge of their oral health and that of their children and proudly serve as community ambassadors, spreading the word to other moms.”

The KinderSmile Perinatal Health & Wellness Program is held at its pediatric dental home year-round, and to date, approximately 180 women have graduated. The next step for KinderSmile Foundation is to identify and partner with women’s health providers in Essex County to reach a broader audience of qualifying moms.

“We couldn’t think of a better partner or place to start than Clara Maass Medical Center,” says Dr. McGrath-Barnes. “It takes a village to treat underserved patients, and Mary Ellen Clyne, Ph.D., President, and CEO; Frank Mazzarella, MD, CHCQM, Chief Medical Officer; and, Annette Cozzarelli-Franklin, MD, Medical Director, Women’s Health Clinic, RWJBarnabas Clara Maass Medical Center intuitively understand the power of leveraging community partnerships to address health issues and life stressors.

KinderSmile Foundation is grateful to Clara Maass Medical Center for sponsoring the SMILE! Awards and to its additional SMILE! Awards sponsors that include: Partners for Health Foundation, Essex County Dental Society, Investors Bank, and Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center.

For more information about KinderSmile Foundation or for more information about the SMILE! Awards, please contact Kim Keating, GIVE Marketing, 908-451-1295 or kkeating@givemarketingllc.com.