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 Services‘ Oral 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 seven-county WDA Southeast Region will feature GKAS® events in several communities this Friday. Activities scheduled for other dates or with available patient slots are specifically noted.
Evansville – The Midwest Dental office will screen up to 30 youngsters, ages 1 – 18, this Friday and then provide cleanings and fill cavities.
Janesville – The dental clinic at HealthNet of Rock County is hosting a walk-in event for families with children ages 3 to 19-years-old on Feb. 7. Teeth cleanings and sealants will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A dentist will treat urgent care needs from 1 – 5 p.m. Approximately 20 patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis.
Robinson & Prijic Family Dental Associates are working with local schools, social services agencies and the Boys & Girls Club to identify children who need dental care. In addition to in-office treatment for those with dental disease, the team is visiting classrooms to give presentations on good oral hygiene habits.
Kenosha – Kenosha County Dental Society volunteer dentists teamed up with Gateway Technical College dental assisting students to provide 120 Boys & Girls Club members with preventive and restorative care and basic oral hygiene instruction during the school’s Annual Health Day.
For more than 12 years, Dr. Bryon Kozak and a member of his team have visited local schools during February to discuss good oral hygiene with students. Up to 600 students will learn about healthy smiles and receive toothbrushes and toothpaste this year.
Kewaskum – Dr. Stephen Van Ess and staff will welcome 12 area youngsters to the office on Feb. 6 for exams, X-rays, cleanings and needed restorative care.
Racine County – Racine County Dental Society members will be among the volunteers at the nonprofit Health Care Network of Racine on Friday to screen 50 – 60 needy youngsters for dental care needs. Follow-up care will be scheduled at later dates in volunteer dentists’ private practices.
Union Grove – The Midwest Dental team on Main Street expects to provide 30 children with dental exams, cleanings, preventive care and necessary restorative treatment on GKAS® day.
Waukesha – Waukesha-based Smiles 4 Life, Inc. provides dental screenings, sealants, fluoride treatments and oral hygiene instruction to elementary school-aged children in 18 Wisconsin counties. This program expects to help more than 5,000 children during the 2013-14 school year.
Waukesha County Dental Society dentists are among the volunteers working with Waukesha County Community Dental Clinic and Waukesha County Technical College to provide 100 children with necessary oral health care this Friday. X-rays, teeth cleanings, dental exams, sealants, treatment for tooth decay and basic oral hygiene instruction are among the services being provided.
Waukesha Pediatric Dental Care on Grandview Boulevard are planning to provide basic preventive and restorative care to 30 young patients on Feb. 7.
West Bend – The Riverfront Dentist team has again teamed up with local Head Start centers to schedule up to 20 preschoolers for exams, basic preventive treatment and urgent care on GKAS® day.
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.