Iowa’s First School-Based Dental Clinic to Open at Scavo High School


Representatives from Delta Dental and the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation presented a total of $270,000 to Des Moines Public Schools for a dental clinic named in honor of Nolden Gentry (center).


The new dental clinic at Scavo High School will be named in honor of Nolden Gentry, the first African-American elected to the Des Moines School Board and a long-time member of the Delta Dental and Mid-Iowa Health Foundation boards of directors.

Des Moines Public Schools has been granted $250,000 from the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and $20,000 from the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation to support the first school-based full service dental clinic in Iowa. Mid-Iowa Health Foundation has also approved a $35,000 grant to the Des Moines Health Center to support start-up costs for operating the clinic. In addition to dental, the new clinic will offer on-site medical and mental health services and is part of a full-service community school project.

The Scavo Full Service Community School is based on the model which treats the whole child with a network of support and services from community partners. This central location will not only serve the most at-risk students who attend Scavo High School, but will allow for students from across the entire district to access quality dental and health care services.

“When a student’s oral health suffers, so does their school performance. In fact, dental problems are one of the leading causes of school absenteeism,” said Jeff Russell, President of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “Our goal with this clinic is to continue to support students in receiving needed dental care while helping them be successful in their academic life.”

DMPS is the largest school district in Iowa, serving about 33,000 students. More than 72% of students are low-income, as evidenced by Free and Reduced Price Lunch program eligibility. Consequently, a high percentage of students do not have access to dental care due to barriers such as cost, transportation, language and parent work schedules. In fact, almost 60% of DMPS students screened by the Smile Squad, an outreach program through Des Moines Health Center, needed ongoing care.

“By eliminating barriers to care, we believe that our students will be healthier, happier and more productive in the classroom and community,” said Dr. Thomas Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “This program allows students to stay in school, helping us continue to increase their graduation rate.”

The new dental clinic will be named the Nolden Gentry Dental Clinic in honor of Nolden Gentry, semi-retired attorney at Brick, Gentry P.C., who provided dedicated service to all three organizations.

“Nolden has been an inspirational leader to organizations that support improving Iowa communities and developing our future leaders,” said Suzanne Mineck, President, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.

Nolden served for 42 combined years on the Delta Dental of Iowa board and the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation board, and 22 years on the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation board. In addition, he was the first African American to serve on the Des Moines Public School board from 1970-1983. Mr. Gentry continues to serve on the boards of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, University of Iowa Foundation and Bridges of Iowa.

At the on-site dental clinic, students will receive preventive and restorative treatment services such as screenings, exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments, x-rays, fillings, and extractions, which will help improve their oral health and overall health.