Over the past few decades, improved oral hygiene and increased dental visits have lead to a large decline in childhood cavities. Although progress has been made, there is still a large population of underserved children who have trouble accessing and receiving the recommended preventative dental care. The Community Health Center Inc. helps raise awareness of this problem by participating in The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Give Kids a Smile Day in addition to offering primary dental care at a majority of their sites throughout the state. CHC also has a statewide Mobile Dental Program that provides high-quality, affordable dental care to children in their schools as another option for providing children the dental care they deserve.
The importance of Preventative Dental Care for Children:
Over twenty million children in the United States do not have access to dental insurance and proper care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that children affected by poor dental care and untreated tooth decay can result in pain, infection, dysfunction, and reduced self-esteem & appearance; tooth related issues are also the number one reason for missed school days for school aged-children. It is recommended by the American Dental Association that children see a dentist no later than their first birthday, but the reality is only 3 out of 5 children have actually seen a dentist before entering Kindergarten. Unlike the common cold, tooth decay does not go away, it only gets worse. Many Children do not have proper access to dental care, which is a major part of reaching good oral health habits for life. The US Surgeon General has referred to dental disease among children as a “silent epidemic”.
Preventative dentistry for kids means dental care designed to keep teeth healthy and prevent problems. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explains that children should receive regular:
✓ Preventative treatments:
- Cavity fillings
- Sealants (protect teeth from tooth decay)
- Dental crowns
✓ Dentists and oral hygienists can also educate children on how to take care of their teeth through demonstrating proper brushing and flossing habits.
What does the American Dental Association say about routine dental care?
The ADA recommends the following steps for good dental health:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months
- Clean between teeth daily with floss and mouthwash
- Eat a balanced diet, and limit soft drinks and between-meal snacks.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
What is Give Kids a Smile Day?
- Give Kids a Smile Day (GKAS) was started in 2003 by the American Dental Association (ADA). It is the nation's largest hands-on approach to help children from low income families with their dental needs; it helps draw attention to the problem that many families face when trying to access basic dental care.
- The Government Accounting Office reports that lack of dental insurance is a strong predictor of why so many children do not receive proper dental care.
- Each year on the first Friday in February, thousands of the nation's dentists and their dental teams provide free dental services to children across the country.
- While the first Friday of February is the recommended event date, Give Kids a Smile programs can be successfully conducted during any month of the year. Some dentists may choose to pick another date that is more convenient to their schedule.
- In 2011, over 1500 GKAS events were held throughout the country, over 400,000 children were seen by a doctor and over 9,000 dentists donated their services.
Give Kids a Smile Day at the Community Health Center, Inc.
Everyone Smiles when Mobile Dental Comes to Town
GKAS takes place in every state including Connecticut where the Community Health Center Inc. is a statewide, independent, private non-profit organization that offers not only dental care at many of its sites, but also has an extensive Mobile Dental Program. CHC has been participating in Give Kids a Smile Day for over seven years at a number of their sites; they also collaborate with private dental practices located in the communities we serve in order to connect families with other community dentists who can provide care. Other than offering dental care to children of low income families during the designated day, CHC provides dental goodie bags and a friendly atmosphere to make sure everyone has a great time. Give Kids a Smile Day services are available to CHC patients and the general public; to schedule an appointment, see the list of site locations and phone numbers to call below.
The Community Health Center’s Mobile Dental Program provides high-quality, affordable dental care to children wherever they are (school, daycare, etc.)
Mobile Dental is a state-wide program and is in over 150 schools throughout Connecticut. Their dental team is made up of a hygienist and care coordinator.
The following services are offered by the program:
- Education: they teach children good oral hygiene habits
- Diagnosing: hygienist screenings, dental exams and X-rays are available
- Prevention: Cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants are available
- Restoration: All restorative services (i.e. cavity fillings) are provided in school when possible. All others are referred to local partners.
Benefits of enrolling into Mobile Dental:
- It’s Easy: your child does not need to be removed from school to get dental care.
- It’s Convenient: time off from work is no longer required to bring children to a dentist’s office.
- It’s Fast: Appointments are no longer than 30 minutes and children miss minimal class time.
*To learn more about bringing the Mobile Dental program to your child’s school, please visit: chc1.com/Locations/MobileDental.html