WEST ALLIS, WIS., Jan. 30, 2013 - More than 9,500 low-income Wisconsin children will receive an estimated $1.2 million in donated dental care this Friday, Feb. 1, and during upcoming weeks, as part of the 11th annual Give Kids A Smile® national children’s dental access program.
At least 330 dentists, 234 dental hygienists and 530 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, classrooms and community centers in at least 59 communities statewide.
The Wisconsin Dental Association and its member dentists and dental hygienists work with the state’s Department of Health Services, 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 five 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.
In the Badger State, DHS reports 25 percent of Head Start children ages 3 and 4 have untreated decay and 33 percent have had cavities and now have fillings.
Children in our nation miss more than 51 million school hours annually because of dental problems according to the Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Data Resource Center.
“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. Timothy Durtsche, WDA president and La Crosse oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Approximately $6 million in free dental care and instruction has been provided to 40,417 Wisconsin youth 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,” Durtsche said.
GKAS® activities are supported, in part, nationwide with donations from Henry Schein Dental, Colgate and DEXIS®. WDA Insurance and Services Corp. offers pediatric dental forms to Wisconsin GKAS® events through The Dental Record under its Professional Services Division.