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Low-income kids to receive free dental care Feb. 23-24

February 12, 2007

On Feb. 23 and 24 an estimated 100 children from local low-income families will receive dental services at no cost ranging from general dental exams and professional fluoride applications, to fillings as part of the national Give Kids a Smile Day.

Give Kids a Smile DayThe Idaho State University dental hygiene department, ISU Pocatello Family Dentistry program, Idaho District VI Health Department and the Southeast Idaho Dental Society will provide the services from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at the ISU Dental Hygiene Clinic at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way on the ISU campus.

Local dental assistants, dental hygienists and dentists, in conjunction with the faculty, staff and students from the ISU dental hygiene and dental residency programs will provide the services.

Appointment reservations are required to receive service. Appointments are being filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To check on the availability of appointments, phone the District VI Health Department at 239-5256.

The services provided at ISU are part of the efforts of an estimated 35,000 dental professionals nationwide who are mobilizing to provide underserved children with the nation’s largest free dental education, screening and care event.

“We are happy to be providing dental care for about 100 children, but we worry about the thousands of children who need dental care but are not receiving it,” said Kimberly Miller, ISU dental hygiene student. “Give Kids a Smile Day is meant to accomplish two things – help children get the dental care they so desperately need and raise awareness that our children deserve a better health-care system that addresses their dental-health needs.”

Events at 2,150 sites across the country range from large-scale dental clinics providing free fillings, cleanings and fluoride treatments, to groups of dental hygienists and dentists providing care to underserved children in private practices.

According to a 2000 surgeon general’s report, one out of four children is born into poverty. Children from families with annual incomes of $10,000 to $20,000 have 10 times more unmet dental needs than children whose families earn more than $50,000. Pain from untreated dental disease can prevent a child from properly eating, sleeping, speaking and paying attention in school, affecting growth and development. In addition, research now suggests that severe gum disease in adults can lead to increased risk of overall disease, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth.

Although dental professionals recommend that children see a dentist and dental hygienist no later than their first birthday, two out of five children living in poverty haven’t seen a dentist by the time they start kindergarten.

In addition to Give Kids a Smile Day, the ISU Dental Hygiene Clinic offers preventive oral health-care services and treatment of periodontal gum diseases to children and adults for nominal fees. To schedule regular appointments, call 282-3282.


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