LINCOLN PARK — Last week, roughly 200 students at Newberry Math and Science Academy in Lincoln Park got some much-needed dental work, free of charge.
Dental team Miles of Smiles, which includes 59-year-old retired dentist Dr. David Rudd, three hygienists and two assistants, were in the school all last week working the mouths of about 75 students a day, some of whom had never been to a dentist before.
"Some of the kids, this is the only dental work they will get," Dr. Rudd said. "Some of them have some really bad stuff going on, but we never ask about dental history."
This is the third year the program is being offered at the school, and all of the funding is through Medicaid, grants and private insurance.
"The kids are good about it," principal Linda Foley-Acevedo said. "It's something that we believe in, the health and well being of the whole child and how that impacts learning."
Rudd, who was running the exams in a makeshift office on the stage of the school's auditorium, retired from working with developmentally disabled students for the state in 2004.
"It's like a semi-retirement, it's a way of still contributing," he said. "The kids aren't scared and it's a good way to catch things before they get back."
Although the exams and cleanings are mostly preventative, students with cavities or other problems are directed to dentists near their homes.
Miles of Smiles is scheduled to stop by about 24 schools in the Chicago Public School system this year.