Gurdon School District



From the #deltadentalARFoundation: With its 600+ students, the Gurdon School District, Gurdon Public Schools, in rural Clark County is one of the state’s smaller school districts. But it boasts something many larger, urban districts can only dream of: an onsite dental clinic. 

“Having a dentist at the school is a game changer for our students,” reports Wendy Schaeffer, the district’s wellness coordinator and mental health therapist. 

School absences caused by oral health conditions are down, and the students’ oral health and oral health literacy are up, she explains. 

The dental clinic was established in 2012 as part of Gurdon’s School-Based Health Center (SBHC). It closed during the pandemic but reopened last spring. Located in the Gurdon High School, it’s within easy walking distance for most students, rather than the 20-mile drive to the nearest traditional full-time dentist practice. The school nurse schedules the appointments, and the students head back to class after their dentist visits.

Dr. Scott Byrd of Arkadelphia travels to the school monthly to provide basic and restorative dental services to the students. He also teaches proper brushing and flossing techniques and the link between oral and overall health. Many times the school dental clinic is a student’s first introduction to the dentist.

The questions of these first-time patients reveal a great deal of anxiety. “What’s a dentist?” – “Does it hurt?” – “What is he going to do to me?” they ask while squirming and fidgeting in the waiting room.

To improve their comfort level, the clinic purchased portable nitrous oxide equipment with a 2023 #communitygrant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation.

The laughing gas relaxes the students, which helps increase the frequency of follow-up visits and the number of students who schedule regular dentist appointments.

It’s working. Not long ago, two high school students were practically lounging in the dental chairs while waiting for Dr. Byrd. “This is pretty cool,” one commented before turning his attention back to his phone—feeling entirely at ease. 

Dental care is cool? We agree. Healthier smiles are even cooler. What “cool” programs does your community organization offer to improve the oral health of Arkansans? Perhaps we can help with funding. Find out more here.


This story was first published on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Gurdon School District Infographic


Student with Toothbrush Kit


Child in dentist chair

Gurdon School District