Wake Forest, N.C. (WNCN) – Some families in Wake Forest now have a bigger reason to smile, as Smiles at Sunnybrook is expanding its services throughout Wake County.

The grant-funded initiative is through the NC Office of Rural Health. On Wednesday, children who are birth to 20 years old that are not insured received free preventable oral care. Their dental cleaning, exams, fluoride applications and X-rays were all covered.

The program was built to help children receive dental services who might live below the poverty line. Since its start-up in 2007, the group has helped more than 4,600 children across Wake County.

Floss Cutting/Regional Smiles
Floss Cutting/Regional Smiles

Also on Wednesday, the program expanded to the Northern Regional Center off E Holding Avenue.

According to Ross Yeager, who is the Director of Wake County Northern Regional, it serves more than 150,000 people in that area.

“The first patient walked in and it was just that moment, for me, that just made it all worth it,” Yeager said. “Just seeing that family walk in with that child, that who would have otherwise gone without any service, was just my takeaway today.”

Regional Smiles will allow access to dental care for underserved areas of the country that may not be able to visit the Sunnybrook location in Raleigh, too, it said.

“[It’s] just humbling to know that I am able to give back and to know that I’m actually making a difference in people’s lives. That’s a great feeling at the end of the day, it just keeps you going,” Dental Director Dr. Rebecca Sykes said.

Wednesday was just the launch service. The expectation is that this will become monthly offerings and expand to other regional centers, including Zebulon, Fuquay-Varina and Cary.

“Dental health is so important to our overall health, but many families can’t afford to take their children to a dentist,” Wake County Commissioner Donald Mial said.