February is designated by the American Dental Association as National Children's Dental Health Month, and The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) is funding a program that provides dental exams and education to at-risk children in Carbon County.

The recent $10,000 Blue Ribbon Foundation grant was awarded to Blue Mountain Health System, Inc. to support the Healthy Smiles, Happy Kids Mobile Dental Van.

With its ability to travel to schools throughout the county, the mobile dental van offers easily accessible preventive and restorative dental services directly to students.

An additional 225 uninsured and underinsured children in Carbon County will be reached by the dental van during the coming year because of the grant.

"More than 3,500 children in Carbon County use Medical Assistance as their primary insurance, but no dentists in the county accept it as payment," said Joe Guardiani, vice president of fund development at Blue Mountain Health Services.

"The Mobile Dental Van fills an important gap in services, and we are grateful to The Blue Ribbon Foundation for helping us meet the dental health needs of our community."

Each child served by the mobile dental van will receive dental examinations twice a year, oral hygiene education, take home dental care materials, and other services (cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, restorations or extractions, and sealants) as needed.

"Our foundation recognizes that good dental care is key to overall physical health, especially in children," said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.

"We are pleased to be able to help keep these vital services available to children in Carbon County."