Filling the Gap, Getting a Smile

Thursday, February 15, 2007 - 6:02am

Kids in Need get Help from Dane County Dentists

GIVE KIDS A SMILE®
NATIONAL CHILDREN'S DENTAL ACCESS DAY

MADISON, WI- For the 5th year in a row, dentists in Dane County are stepping forward this spring to provide basic dental care for local low-income children, an effort that truly helps "Give Kids a Smile."

The extent of the need is dramatic and shocking. Many children within the county have untreated tooth decay. Anyone who has ever experienced a bad toothache can tell you how severe the pain can be, not to mention the risk of other health-related complications.

Stepping up to address this acute need, 80 Dane County dentists are taking part in a local "Give Kids a Smile" campaign, part of a national effort that has provided free dental care to thousands of low-income children across the country.

"This program is a tremendous service to the community," said Dr. Eric teDuits of Children's Dental Center in Madison. "Without it, these children would continue to have untreated decay and suffer from intense pain, which can cause problems learning and concentrating in school."

Dentists in this program offer free dental cleaning, dental sealants and follow-up treatment to children who otherwise would have no dental care. Children will be visiting dentists for appointments at various times and locations across Dane County beginning in February.

There has been a steady growth in dentist participation in this county-wide effort in the last four years. This year over 80 dentists will participate. The program is expected to reach almost 250 children, who will receive the care they need free of charge. Each child will receive at least two visits and some up to four, as needed.

In 2006, dentists provided over $145,000 worth of dental services. This year, each participating dentist has agreed to see at least two children. Some dentists will be donating care for up to six children. But the real value of the program is its contribution to the health and well being of the children being served.

"None of this could happen without incredible assistance from a number of sources," said Dawn Collins, Coordinator of the local Give Kids a Smile program. "People from all over the community are stepping forward to help make sure these children get the dental care they need."

School nurses and social workers, as well as public health nurses, play a vital role by identifying children who are in need of dental care. School personnel also coordinate each child's initial appointment and follow-up visits, with the help of the office staff from each dental office.

United Way, Delta Dental Insurance, and local law firm Axley Brynelson have provided funding for this program. The community partners who coordinate this local initiative include Dane County Dental Society, Public Health-Madison and Dane County, the Madison Metropolitan School District and other Dane County school districts.

It's a truly collaborative effort that really fills a gap and contributes to the health and well being of hundreds of children throughout Dane County ... an effort that pays off by giving these kids something to smile about.

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Give Kids a Smile is a registered trademark of the American Dental Association

Contacts: 
  • Lisa Bullard-Cawthorne, (608)444-3542