WEST ALLIS, WIS., Feb. 4, 2014 – More than 13,800 low-income Wisconsin children will receive an estimated $1.1 million in donated dental care this Friday, Feb. 7, and during upcoming weeks, as part of the 12th annual Give Kids A Smile® national children’s dental access program. 

Some 337 dentists, 187 dental hygienists and 1,028 other dental team members, dental, hygiene and assisting students, faculty and community advocates will volunteer their time and skills to get underserved children across the Badger State out of pain and treat dental disease with fillings, extractions and crowns. Other events involve dental health screenings, cleanings and oral hygiene education.

GKAS® activities are taking place in private dental practices, large-scale clinics and classrooms in at least 64 communities statewide.

The Wisconsin Dental Association and its member dentists and dental hygienists work with the state’s Department of Health ServicesOral Health Program, local government agencies, schools, Head Start and youth and community organizations to identify low-income children in need of dental treatment.

Tooth decay is a serious and transmissible disease. Early childhood cavities, which are preventable, are four times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever among America’s children according to the U. S. Surgeon General’s “Oral Health in America” report.

The “2013 – Healthy Smiles/Healthy Growth” report notes 53 percent of third grade children in Wisconsin have fillings and 18 percent currently have untreated dental decay.

Nationwide, children miss 54 million school hours annually because of dental problems.

 “The WDA, American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend children have a professional dental exam no later than age 1, because baby teeth matter to a child’s early physical, social and emotional development,” said Dr. Julio Rodriguez, WDA president and a general dentist in Brodhead.

The 21-county WDA Southwest Region will feature GKAS® events in several communities this Friday. Activities scheduled for other dates or with available patients slots are specifically noted.

Alma – One dentist and two support staff working with Healthy Smiles for Buffalo County will screen 35 children for dental disease, provide fluoride varnish and sealants along with oral hygiene instruction.

Baraboo – Dental Associates on 14th Street is teaming up with local schools, health departments and social service agencies to identify children in need of dental care. Approximately 40 children will be scheduled for basic preventive and urgent care this Friday. The team will also visit several classrooms throughout the remainder of National Children’s Dental Health Month to share tips for practicing good oral hygiene at home.

Belleville – Neighborhood Smiles are planning to provide comprehensive care to at least eight children.

Cassville – Dr. Tom Hughes is marking 31 years of taking his traveling oral hygiene education program to Cassville-area classrooms during February. He’ll share information about the importance of daily tooth brushing, flossing and eating healthy.

Deerfield – The Midwest Dental office will welcome 18 youngsters for a basic dental exam and fluoride varnish.

Fort Atkinson – Rock River Dental expects to provide 19 young people from low-income families with exams and basic preventive and restorative care.

Holmen – Midwest Dental on Holmen Drive has identified 30 youngsters in need of basic oral health care.

La CrosseLa Crosse District Dental Society members and volunteer dental staff previously screened 100 area school children for oral health needs. Youngsters needing follow-up care will be seen in various private dental offices this Friday. Dr. Kurt Hulse of Onalaska chairs this long-time annual area effort.

Midwest Dental’s La Crosse East office will screen an estimated 25 children, ages 4 – 14, and provide basic care as needed.

Another local Midwest Dental office is teaming up with Mountain Dental to provided needed care to 23 youngsters identified as needing care by local public health agencies, schools, Head Start programs and youth organizations.

MadisonDane County Dental Society celebrates GKAS® year round. Eighty-two general and specialist dentists donate emergency care to youngsters referred by local health officials. The countywide program also provides young people with dental cleanings. School nurses and social workers provide case management to help the families focus on healthy lifestyles and make oral hygiene a priority.

Local Midwest Dental offices will provide some 36 children with basic preventive care and treat infections as needed.

Dr. Lisa Young and her team are planning a special care day in the future to treat children in need in their community.

Markesan – The Midwest Dental team will screen 10 young pages, ages 3 – 18, and provide basic treatment as needed.

Mayville – Dr. Mark Brieman and his dental team have scheduled appointments for at least a dozen young patients to receive basic dental exams and preventive care. Children needing restorative care will be scheduled for follow-up appointments.

Mondovi – Midwest Dental on Monroe Street will provide 12 children for needed care.

Portage – An estimated 14 young patients will be screened for dental disease and provided with free cleanings and sealants at the local Midwest Dental office. Some restorative work will be done if needed.

Prairie du Chien – On Saturday, Feb. 8, local Dental Associate practices will welcome 90 children, ages 4 – 18, to their annual Have a Heart Day which is held in conjunction with GKAS®. Dental exams, basic preventive care and restorative treatment will be provided. Several classrooms are also visited during NCDHM and information about the importance of good oral health shared with students and teachers.

Stoughton – Drs. Thor Anderson and Richard Albright and members of their dental team will visit local classrooms during February to talk about the importance of dental health to overall well-being and provide basic oral hygiene instruction.

Verona – Associated Dentists on North Edge Trail are part of the larger Dane County Dental Society, year-round, charitable care outreach.

Watertown – Midwest Dental on Oakridge Court is again providing basic preventive and restorative care. Ten children will be scheduled for free care on GKAS® day.

Whitehall – Healthy Smiles for Trempeleau County visits schools throughout the year. Students receive dental screenings, fluoride varnish, sealants and personal oral hygiene education. Youngsters with dental disease are scheduled for follow-up treatment as appropriate.

Wisconsin Dells – The Dells Dental team has scheduled appointments for some 30 young patients on GKAS® day. Basic preventive and restorative care will be provided to local children in need.

 Approximately $7.2 million in free dental care and instruction has been provided to 49,900 youth across the Badger State through GKAS® since 2003.

 “Charity isn’t an effective or efficient way of reducing barriers to dental care. Dentists are glad to donate their time and skills, but we also want to work with lawmakers to help the state make ‘Healthy Choices’ for the long term,” Rodriguez said.

GKAS® activities are supported nationwide, in part, with donations from Henry Schein Dental, Colgate and DEXIS®. Pediatric dental forms are made available to Wisconsin GKAS® events by The Dental Record through the Professional Services Division of WDA Insurance and Services Corp.