Have a Heart Day brightens smiles for 30 years

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Argument #1 is not an array in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Argument #1 is not an array in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).

Family Dentistry Associates of Monona will hold its annual Have a Heart Day on Saturday, Feb. 8, giving local kids ages 4 to 18 who haven’t recently seen a dentist an opportunity to receive free dental care. “We saw a need,” said Dr. Mark Fohey of how the event started 30 years ago. “It was something we could provide to the area to give back.” (Submitted photo)

On Have a Heart Day, Jessica Wilke and her fellow doctors each see 15 to 20 patients. Procedures include exams and cleanings, X-rays, fillings, extractions and sealants. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Family Dentistry Associates of Monona will hold its annual Have a Heart Day on Saturday, Feb. 8, giving local kids ages 4 to 18 who haven’t recently seen a dentist an opportunity to receive free dental care. 

The event, inspired by an idea Family Chiropractic Associates brought to Waukon, dates back to 1990. Both Family Dentistry and its sister clinic, Waukon Dental, have offered the service for 30 years, while Dental Associates of Prairie du Chien has taken part since opening 25 years ago.

“We saw a need,” said Dr. Mark Fohey. “It was something we could provide to the area to give back.”

Have a Heart Day has always been scheduled for the Saturday before Valentine’s Day and falls within National Children’s Dental Health Month. The offices are usually decked out in a Valentine’s theme, making for a festive and comfortable atmosphere.

“If it’s a new office and their first time at the dentist, it can be scary. So we make it a fun day, and we do what we can to make it a positive experience,” said Dr. Jessica Wilke. “We explain things and build that confidence so they’re more comfortable in the future.”

Typical Have a Heart Day procedures include exams and cleanings, X-rays, simple fillings, extractions and sealants.

“We want to see as many patients as possible, and use our time as much as possible, so we focus on things we can do in one day,” Fohey explained.

Throughout the morning, Fohey said it’s not uncommon for one doctor to see 15 to 20 patients. Between four doctors at the three offices, 50 to 80 kids receive care each year. Collectively, dentists have treated around 1,825 patients since Have a Heart Day’s inception.

Unlike some free health care days, the offices request no financial proof of need. They hope to reach those who don’t already have assistance or insurance, or kids they haven’t seen before, but no one is turned away. 

“There are no charges,” stressed Fohey. “We’re completely donating our time, and the expenses the office incurs are eaten.”

Wilke said providing these Have a Heart Day services is important because dental decay is the number one childhood disease. 

“Pain and discomfort can have an impact on their quality of life, their ability to eat and speak and how well they do in school,” she shared.

Too often, said Fohey, people have the mentality that it’s not a big deal to simply take out a baby tooth. But when that tooth doesn’t fall out naturally, it can trigger longer term effects.

“Shifting can occur and affect proper development of the teeth that come in later,” he explained. “Preventative care is better, no different than with a car or a furnace.”

On Have a Heart Day, staff also take time to educate kids and their parents on good dental habits.

“There are things they can do on their own time to decrease decay problems in the future,” Wilke said. 

After the event is over, Fohey said the kids sometimes return as regular patients, but that’s not the intent.

“That’s great,” he stated, “but really it’s about giving back to the community and passing it on. It makes you feel good.”

Due to time and room constraints, the offices may have to limit the number of services for each patient on Have a Heart Day, so people are encouraged to call ahead and assure a scheduled time is in place. 

Family Dentistry Associates of Monona is located at 602 Tower St., and can be reached at (563) 539-4651. Contact Waukon Dental at (563) 568-4528 or Dental Associates of Prairie du Chien at (608) 326-6886.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet