News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Ironmen Health Center promotes dental care

You'd expect the nurse practitioner who treats adolescents and young adults at the Ironmen Health Center to focus on their physical health, but Tammy Hickman wants to make sure her clients practice good dental care and visit a dentist regularly too.

"Good dental health is important to overall well-being," Hickman said. "I often have concerns about a client's dental health in what you'd think of as a traditional primary health care visit."

Hickman said her practice at the Ironmen Health Center has a focus on prevention, so she encourages actions in her clients that promote health. For example, eating nutritious foods or quitting tobacco use has implications for oral health.

She says she also makes specific recommendations to protect oral health, like using a mouth guard when playing sports or avoiding piercings in or around the mouth.

"Another thing we encourage all of our clients to do is see a dentist regularly," Hickman said. "It's really convenient that there's a Dental Clinics North office located right in our building and that they accept Medicaid and other dental insurance plans. Cost should not be a barrier for any of our clients."

According to the American Dental Association, the best way for young people to enjoy a nice smile and healthy teeth is to continue the good oral habits they started early in childhood. Whether they wear braces or not, it is important for teenagers to:

The Ironmen Health Center offers primary care, including mental health services to adolescents and young adults age 10 to 21, and their young children, from Mancelona and surrounding communities. Although insurance programs are accepted, there are no co-pays or deductibles. Charges are based on students' income (zero) so fees are waived.

"The child and adolescent health center model is extremely successful across the country," Hickman said. "Clinics like the Ironmen Health Center are a great investment in kids. They've been shown to improve academic success by reducing absenteeism and to decrease health care expenditures like unnecessary emergency room visits. Here in Mancelona, we see five of every seven middle and high school students. We have the opportunity to make a real difference in kid's lives."

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about the Ironmen Health Center, call 231-587-9840.

Mancelona students Katie Carter, Gabby Kitchens, Gretchen Heegeman, Adam Sweet,
Samantha Sineway, River Kressler, and Heidi Tracey show off their new toothbrushes in front of
posters they made promoting oral health. Anyone age 10 to 21, and their young children, can receive
free primary health care at the Ironmen Health Center in Mancelona.