More than four million children in America do not have dental care. The most common reason: their parents simply can't afford it. Now, a group of Triad area dentists are on a mission to change that.
In this economy, it can almost feel optional to visit your dentist. However, dentists say letting a child's teeth go unchecked can lead to all kinds of health problems in life like pain, heart problems, bacterial infections and diseases.
The Alamance-Caswell County "Give Kids A Smile Program" aims to prevent those problems. Local dentists donate their time and expertise. Last year, they performed more than five-hundred free dental procedures.
Dentists say they never blame parents, because they know most moms and dads would take their children to the dentist if they could afford it.
"They want to help their kids. It's not that they don't care about their kids. They're bringing them to these clinics. So, we know they want to help their kids. For us to be able to be there and provide that help for them, it makes everybody feel good," Dr. Jason Troutman said.
Some dentists choose to "adopt" children they examine during the event. In other words, they invite the kids to come to their dental office to get ongoing treatments free of charge.
"I just feel like it's what I'm supposed to do. They need it. I can provide it. I want to provide it," Troutman said.
Unlike many other free dental clinics, this one is limited to children living in Alamance and Caswell Counties. If you're not living in those counties, call your local health department. They can usually give you some options.
The Give Kids A Smile Free Dental Clinic is on February 2, 2013, but you must sign-up for it this week. Thursday, January 24, 2013 is the registration deadline.
Your child must meet the following criteria:
- Be in preschool - 8th grade
- Reside in Alamance County or Caswell County
- Reside in a family that has financial need
- Have no dental insurance
- Not currently enrolled in N.C. Medicaid or N.C. Health Choice program
Call 336-221-1267 between 9:00 a.m. and noon and then again from 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.