With an economy that might cause some parents to postpone regular dental visits for their children and tooth decay being the most prevalent chronic disease in America's children, the American Dental Association (ADA) is mobilizing dental professionals for the eighth consecutive year in a national campaign to extend necessary care to children and adolescents from low-income families.
On Friday, Feb. 5, during the eighth annual ADA Give Kids A Smile program, some 50,000 dental professionals will volunteer and provide free services for over 320,000 children at 2,000 sites throughout the country.
Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that tooth decay is on the rise for preschoolers. In addition, children five to seven years of age are estimated to lose more than 7 million school hours annually because of dental problems.
ADA's major oral health outreach program
Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) is the ADA's major oral health outreach program, launched to encourage parents, health professionals and policymakers to address this important health issue. "We all know that a one-day event is not a delivery system and cannot solve the ongoing problem of untreated dental disease," stressed ADA President Ronald L. Tankersley, D.D.S. "It is important that policymakers at the federal and state level strengthen dental provisions in public health programs to help put children on the road to good oral health."
At the various sites, GKAS dental volunteers will provide educational materials, screenings and, where possible, free dental care such as cleanings, X-rays and fillings.
"Although many children will benefit from the services provided through Give Kids A Smile, our concern is for the countless others who continue to suffer from untreated dental disease," said Dr. Tankersley. "We will continue to advocate for a larger and lasting way, through public policy, to ensure that kids who have been falling through the cracks in our delivery system receive the attention they need."
Generous support of sponsors
Give Kids A Smile events take place during February's National Children's Dental Health Month, through the volunteer efforts of dentists and dental team members and the generous support of corporate sponsors. In 2010, the Colgate-Palmolive Company will supply 300,000 toothbrushes and 300,000 tubes of toothpaste for GKAS events; DEXIS Digital X-ray donates the use of DEXIS Digital X-ray systems and support staff to U.S. dental schools requesting help; Henry Schein Dental will provide professional dental kits containing gloves, masks, patient bibs, dental floss, prophy paste and fluoride products.
The ADA urges parents to make sure their children brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, eat a balanced diet and see their dentist regularly to address tooth decay in its earliest stages.
About the American Dental Association
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing more than 157,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit the Association's Web site at www.ada.org.