6 Questions with Terri Chandler - Founder of Future Smiles


Interview with: Terri Chandler, RDH

Founder/Executive Director - Future Smiles

 

  1. How was Future Smiles first conceived?

In 2009, myself and two other dental hygienists worked to form Future Smiles, a Nevada nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization. Our intentions were to help Nevadans access much needed dental treatment through school-based efforts and community access. At the time, we were providing dental hygiene services at one school. Today, we serve 50 schools in Southern Nevada and 10 schools in Northern Nevada.

  1. What is the overall mission of Future Smiles?

To increase access to dental healthcare for undeserved populations.

  1. What has been the greatest achievement at Future Smiles if you could only name one thing?

Helping our Future Smiles children and their families access dental treatment and find a dental home! Future Smiles is often invited to present at national conferences. We have been privileged to present at the National Oral Health Conference to the American Public Health Association. Our innovative model is respected as a best practice approach and we are asked to hold site visits for folks who come from outside of Nevada.

On one occasion, I met our guests at the school and showed them the health center. The lead dental hygienist, Jenn, was treating a young boy. I looked in the room and asked him how he was doing and how long he had been coming to Future Smiles? He said that he had been with Future Smiles since he started school, and then he said, “I remember you, Ms. Terri!" I looked at his chart and saw that it was a little boy from the first year of Future Smiles.

You see, he was one of the most severe cases that we helped in the first year of Future Smiles. Back then, I wore all of our hats from being a clinical dental hygienist, webmaster, data entry, and grant writer. As a dental hygienist, I too took care of him and never forgot him.

Right before my eyes was this little boy from so long ago and he was healthy, free from dental decay, smiling and no longer suffering or unable to eat.

In that moment, my mind saw a full cycle of care for this little boy - he went from experiencing all of the awful effects of dental disease to being healthy, growing and thriving! It is inconceivable to me to think what his life would have been like if Future Smiles was not there to help him!

We often worry how many kids are on the fringes of needing help, suffering, living with daily dental pain and helpless to open all of the barriers that they face. There is so much dental need in our community and Future Smiles continues to carry out our mission to serve others.

  1. What would be your ultimate dream/goal for Future Smiles?

Future Smiles needs a proper school-based facility for dentists to provide restorative treatment and we have identified a school-based health center at the Elaine Wynn Elementary Schools. This facility needs to be renovated to support three fixed dental chairs. We have applied for a grant with the Nevada Women's Philanthropy organization to seek the necessary support for the renovation. We are partnering with Roseman University to bring together the community and higher educational system. This will be a collaborative effort to support our program expansion to integrate a dentist into Future Smiles’ scope of services.

  1. In what capacity does technology benefit the day-to-day workflow of Future Smiles?

We could not do our work without our cloud platform and Dentrix. On any given day, Future Smiles has multiple dental hygienists providing services at multiple school locations. Because of the technology created by Pact-One Solutions, our team can access Dentrix, communicate with each other and store electronic health records across the state of Nevada in a real-time manner. This has created a sophisticated system that is efficient and timely. Thanks Pact-One!

  1. How can others in the community help contribute to Future Smiles?

On the Future Smiles website, www.futuresmiles.net, we have a communication link for the dentist, “I’m a dentist and I would like to help Future Smiles.” Once selected, there are a variety of choices to fit the dentist and dental office's desire to help Future Smiles.

Donations of dental equipment, toothbrushes, toothpaste, other dental supplies and so on are all tax deductible. The dentist can also offer to help provide dental treatment to an at-risk child without dental insurance. We would love to hear from the dental community!

 

Pact-One's CEO Dan Edwards is a proud board member of Future Smiles