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Area Dentists, University of Detroit Mercy Team Up to Provide Free Dental Care to Low-Income, Uninsured Detroit-Area Children on Saturday, February 7
Date:2/3/2009

United Way for Southeastern Michigan Screens Patients

DETROIT, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- February is National Children's Dental Health Month and on Saturday, February 7, over 300 children from the Detroit metropolitan area will receive free dental care. It's part of the American Dental Association's seventh annual "Give Kids a Smile" campaign where dentists around the U.S. donate their services that day to children who, because of economic reasons, don't have access to dental care.

In Michigan it is estimated that nearly $1.4 million in dental care will be provided by 615 dentists throughout the state.

Nearly 90 Michigan Dental Association dentists from Detroit, Oakland and Macomb dental societies have teamed up with the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry to provide care ranging from cleanings, X-rays, fillings and other necessary treatment.

So far 312 children have been scheduled for treatment on Saturday Feb. 7 at the school's dental facility at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd on the Corktown Campus. To help screen patients in need of oral health care, the dental societies have teamed up with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan 211 call center to schedule appointments. Appointments for treatment will be accepted through Thursday for children between the ages of 4 and 18 who are not covered by dental insurance and live in Detroit, Oakland, Macomb or Wayne counties.

"We realize there are thousands of disadvantaged children in Michigan who are not able to receive regular dental care," said Otto Klanow, DDS, MS, chairman of the Give Kids a Smile event.

"While 'Give Kids a Smile' day will help some children get the dental care they desperately need, I worry about the thousands of children who aren't here today -- the ones who continue to have trouble eating, sleeping and paying attention in school because their teeth hurt and are in such bad shape," said Klanow.

"It's important to remember," according to Klanow, "that a healthy body starts with a healthy mouth. Untreated dental disease is painful and can affect a child's physical, emotional and social development. Oral health must be considered part of primary care. Until then, for every child we care for on this day, even thousands more will continue to suffer until dental health becomes a priority funding issue.

"A one-day event like Give Kids a Smile is not a cure-all, it's a wake-up call," said Klanow. "Here in Michigan, one percent of the total Medicaid budget is allocated to dental services for both children and adults. Dentists want to be part of the solution, but we can't solve the access problem on our own."

Headquartered in Lansing, the Michigan Dental Association has more than 5,600 members in 26 local dental societies and two dental schools. Since its founding in 1856, the MDA has sought to educate the public, enhance its members' ability to provide high quality care and to promote the science and art of dentistry. For more information on the "Give Kids a Smile" program or other MDA initiatives call (800) 589-2632 or log on to www.smilemichigan.com.


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SOURCE Michigan Dental Association
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