Sept. 2018 Jefferson Award honorees: Lori Krueger & Michelle Tekippe

PHILLIPS (WAOW) – Two dental hygienists from the Northwoods are recognized with Jefferson Awards for their efforts aimed at helping thousands of children have healthier teeth – and beautiful smiles.

Lori Krueger and Michelle Tekippe are longtime volunteers for a mobile dental program in Price County called “Seal a Smile.”

It goes to schools, providing preventative care, dental sealants screenings, fluoride varnishes and other education about teeth to students in grades two, three, six and seven, Tekippe said. The services are free.

“We allow all children to be in the program,” Krueger said. “But if we can reach those who would not be able to see a hygienist or to have the sealants, that is our main goal – to help those who can’t help themselves.”

Price County Health Hygienist Nancy Rublee started the project 18 years ago. She saw too many rural children unable to get dental care due to insurance issues and a shortage of dentists.

Rublee says the Price County program is funded with private and public money and has become a model for others around the state and country.

Without volunteers, “Seal a Smile” would not be possible, she said.

“We have served thousands of children. Our volunteers are excellent and often work with special needs children. Lori and Michelle are just fantastic,” the founder said.

Krueger and Tekippe say they look forward to continuing their volunteer work and encourage others to do the same.

“It  makes the community better,” Tekippe said. “It makes it stronger and shows others that even if you don’t have a certain skill set, you do have skills. You do have gifts that you can share.”

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