Friday, February 02, 2007

U.S. Dentists 'Give Kids a (Free) Smile' This Friday

(HealthDay News) -- More than 750,000 kids across America are eligible for free dental services Friday, Feb. 2, as part of the fifth annual Give Kids A Smile program, offered by the American Dental Association (ADA).

The one-day event -- designed to focus national attention on untreated oral disease among disadvantaged children -- provides free preventive and restorative dental services to children from low-income families.

This year, more than 51,000 dental professionals will volunteer their time to offer their services at more than 2,150 sites across the nation.

"Give Kids A Smile is our national initiative to focus attention on the untreated oral disease among disadvantaged children. However, this one-day event is not a cure-all, but a wake-up call that our children need a better ongoing health care system that addresses their dental health needs," ADA President Dr. Kathleen Roth said in a prepared statement.

Many children in the United States do not have access to dental care, which is critical to good oral health. One goal of Give Kids A Smile is to increase public awareness of what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a silent epidemic of dental disease and to encourage parents, politicians, health professionals and others to tackle this issue in their communities, the ADA said.

The association recommends that children see a dentist no later than their first birthday, but only 3 out of 5 U.S. children have seen a dentist before kindergarten. By then, 52 percent of 6- to 8-year-olds have tooth decay, according to the Healthy People 2000 oral health update.
Untreated dental disease can harm a child's self-esteem and cause pain that makes it difficult for a child to eat, sleep and pay attention in school, the ADA said.

More information
Here's where you can find the nearest Give Kids A Smile site.

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