Bloomfield nonprofit provides oral care for thousands of NJ children

With oral disease disproportionately affecting children from lower-income families, Dr. Nicole McGrath is leading the charge on increasing oral care access and education throughout the Garden State.

In 2007, she started the KinderSmile Foundation, an organization that sees up to 2,000 kids a year with the help of 49 community partners.

McGrath said that 53 million hours of school are missed every year due to oral disease.

“Our purpose of that program is to catch those children that are not being seen and refer them back to our dental home, KinderSmile community oral health center located in Bloomfield,” she said.

On Tuesday, the organization held its inaugural Smile Awards, where First Lady Tammy Murphy was present to honor the women who completed the organization’s perinatal health and wellness program. Empowering mothers to become oral-health ambassadors in their communities is one of the nonprofit’s goals.

“We identify 75 at-risk uninsured mothers, we provide them with oral education, and they transition over to get one year worth of free dental services,” said McGrath.

Gov. Phil Murphy, too, is heightening New Jersey’s focus on oral health. In July, he appointed a state dental director, the first in 30 years.