Students get cleanings, dental work at Taneytown Elementary through Big Smiles Maryland Mobile Dentists

Taneytown Elementary School kids got their teeth cleaned and worked on through Big Smiles Maryland Mobile Dentists Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018.

A handful of students sat in line at Taneytown Elementary School waiting for their turn in the dental chair.

Once in the chair, kids got a bib strapped on, sunglasses to wear, and hygienists who worked to clean teeth and teach students how to properly floss.


And while for many, a trip to the dentist isn’t their favorite way to spend a Tuesday afternoon, with Big Smiles Maryland Mobile Dentists, getting a teeth cleaning, a filling or a fluoride treatment is made easier. The program brings the dentist’s office right to the school.

Nichole Schlereth, the nurse at Taneytown Elementary, said students who want to participate in the mobile dental clinic sign up with parent permission.

“It’s an actual dental clinic that comes out — real dentists, dental hygienists,” she said.

And they provide everything a traditional cleaning would, from X-rays to fillings and sealants, she said.

“I think it’s a really wonderful thing that they do this, they come out, because we are all busy in our lives and we can’t all get our children to the dentist,” Schlereth said, adding that this process is convenient for families.

Schlereth said people don’t always think about how important dental health is, and kids often miss out on the opportunity to go see a dentist.

These hygienists work with children regularly, she added, so they know how to work with the kids so they aren’t scared.

For 9-year-old Chloe Pool, a fourth-grader at Taneytown Elementary, going to the dentist isn’t something she ever looks forward to. She did say she has been to a dentist in Frederick before, which she liked because she got a treat at the end.

But going to the dentist in general? For Chloe, it’s something that isn’t her favorite.

She said she wasn’t scared though, like some other kids might be, because she’s gotten her teeth cleaned before.

“I’ve been to a dentist before, so I know what they’re going to do,” she added.

As Chloe waited, Izabella Amspacher, 10, finished her turn getting her teeth cleaned before getting to pick out a new toothbrush.

She picked blue — one of four colors that are her favorite.

Even with the free toothbrush though, she also didn’t like having to get her teeth cleaned, or getting the fluoride treatment.


“I just don’t like it,” Izabella said.

But even if the day wasn’t everyone’s favorite, this type of medical care is helpful for families.

Valerie Spurrier, a team leader and hygienist for the mobile dentist, said the organization travels to schools in multiple counties across Maryland, including Carroll County, Frederick County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Baltimore City and Calvert County. They provide cleanings and other work “to children who otherwise would not have dental care,” she added.

“Every year we’re adding more and more schools,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier said the hope is that having the dental work done in a relaxed setting is helpful to kids who might not want to go.

“We have older kids who are so fearful of the dentist. We take our time and we work with everybody so we treat each child as an individual. We have the time to do that,” she said.

The clinic will stop in at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School on Dec. 3 and 4. The clinic accepts private insurance, Medicaid and CHIP, as well as “highly discounted self-pay” options, according to its website. For those who can’t pay, there is also a grant program. For more information, visit