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Podcast: Healthy Smiles for All!

Posted on Apr 26, 2023, by

Dental care is critical to a person’s overall health, especially in children. But the pandemic and financial constraints have been barriers to families trying to access proper care, causing decreases in visits. Organizations like volunteer-driven Tri-County Dental help fill the gaps and meet thousands of students where they’re at, offering preventive care to avoid emergencies and keep students healthy and able to focus in school. 

In a recent New News Lab article, Many Kids missed dental appointments during the pandemic. (News Lab is a collaborative effort to help our local newsrooms address issues in our area. Read more about our involvement with this initiative here.)

It’s estimated that there are over 85,000 people in the tri-county area of Northeast Wisconsin who cannot afford even limited oral health care. And according to the Dental Association, about a third of all children in the state of Wisconsin have untreated tooth decay. The dental community wanted to do something about that. For the past two decades, volunteer dentists and dental hygienists have been offering their services free of charge through the Tri-County Community Dental Clinic.

Roughly 90 dentists from throughout the area volunteer to work at Tri-County. There are paid fellowships for new dentists who recently graduated to get experience for a one-year term. There are income and insurance requirements to be eligible to go to the clinic. Co-pays for regular visits never cost more than $35. But for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, care is completely free.


Several years ago, the clinic decided to hit the road, and bring dental care to children in our community who need it the most. and they’re doing it on a bus. The new Tri-County Community Dental Clinic mobile bus is an amazing example of community need being supported by many generous donors in the community including two donor funds within the Community Foundation. The entire cost of the $650,000 mobile clinic was completely covered before the bus was even delivered two days before Christmas 2020 at the height of the pandemic! Just in time to help youngsters who hadn’t seen a dentist for a long time.


  • at 1:56   Jeff Buchta, Former Executive Director of Tri-County Dental
  • at 4:46    Kayla Poxleitner, Hygiene Volunteer Coordinator
  • at 12:36  Erin Choudior, Former Program Manager
  • at 14:35  Ann Engelhard, Vice President of Donor Services and Gift Planning, Community Foundation

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