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Ohio Dental Volunteers to Give Over $1.1M in Free Care and Improve Oral Health of 18,000 Children in Need Through 6th Annual Give Kids A Smile! Day Ohio
Date:1/24/2008

NOTE TO MEDIA: Due to the need for signed parental consent and health history forms, Give Kids A Smile! Day events have already determined and scheduled the youth population they will see on February 1 - primarily coming from children's clubs, HeadStart programs, area schools, social service agencies and such. PLEASE DO NOT INDICATE TO THE PUBLIC THAT THE EVENT IS OPEN TO UNREGISTERED CHILDREN.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In conjunction with the Ohio Dental Association's sixth annual Give Kids A Smile! Day Ohio, dentists and other volunteers across Ohio are joining together on Friday, Feb. 1 and subsequent weeks to bring smiles to the faces of disadvantaged children. In many cases, free dental care and ongoing GKAS programs will continue throughout the year. GKAS! Day is an annual program of the ODA and American Dental Association in which dentists and other dental volunteers provide free dental services and programs to children from low-income families; these are children who otherwise would not seek or cannot afford such services. Many of these programs are in partnership with local colleges and dental clinics.

In 2007, more than $1,116,000 in free dental services and programs were provided to Ohio children through this children's dental access program. This year, an estimated 1,800 Ohio dentists and other volunteers will reach out to children in need, with the anticipated dollar value exceeding $1,135,895 and the expected number of Ohio children to be seen at 18,000 or more. This is particularly significant given the daunting statistic that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2003)

President of the Ohio Dental Association, Dr. Henry Fields, said the success of Give Kids A Smile! Day and the commitment of dentists to help underserved children is significant - but so is the access to dental care issue that exists in Ohio and across the country. "This program is about helping children get the dental care they sorely need and Ohio dentists do just that. As important, however, is getting the message out to our legislators that good oral health is integral to good oral health. We need to help educate our policy makers so they can make their decisions on oral health policy that best serve the dental needs of all Ohioans, especially those in need."

Ohio's GKAS programs will offer a range of dental services, including education and oral hygiene instruction, screening, examinations, preventive and restorative, endodontics, oral surgery and in some instances, orthodontic care. Several thousand Ohio children will be "Toothprinted" as well.

In addition to giving of their time and dental expertise, many ODA members have also donated office space, materials, equipment, and staff time to the event; a number of local dental societies also pay the cost of school busses and drivers to transport children to the dental care site. Hundreds of other dental volunteers, including dental students, dental hygienists and assistants and more, are among the volunteers for this event.

Give Kids A Smile! Day Ohio would not be as successful without support from others. In addition to services and materials provided to GKAS volunteers by the American Dental Association and Ohio Dental Association, support has also been provided by Delta Dental of Ohio, local dental societies and numerous local partners and sponsors throughout the state. Give Kids A Smile! Day is supported nationally by the American Dental Association, Colgate, Henry Schein Dental, DenTek Oral Care Inc. and Dexis Digital X-ray Systems, Inc.

For additional information on Ohio Dental Association public service and other programs, visit http://www.oda.org - Ohio's resource for oral health information. For additional oral health resources, please visit the American Dental Association at http://www.ada.org.

Biting facts

-- Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, occurring at five times the rate of asthma and seven times that of hay fever (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2003)

-- Dental care is the number one unmet need of Ohio children and adults (Ohio Dept. of Health Access to Dental Care Report, 2007)

-- The proportion of third-grade children with untreated cavities was unchanged between 1998-99 and 2004-05. (Ohio Dept. of Health Access to Dental Care Report, 2007)

-- More than one-third of Ohio children, ages 6-8 from low income families, have untreated dental disease. (Ohio Dept. of Health Access to Dental Care Report, 2000)

-- More than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2003)

-- By age 8, an estimated 52 percent of children have had tooth decay; and 78 percent of children who are 17 years of age have tooth decay. (Centers for Disease Control, oral health resources, http://www.cdc.gov.)

-- Toddlers have decay too: 17 percent of 2 to 4 year olds already have tooth decay. (CDC)

-- Dental disease can threaten a child's health, well-being and ability to achieve, and children with oral health problems can have difficulty eating, sleeping and paying attention in school. (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2003)

-- Research indicates a link between chronic oral infections and heart and lung disease, stroke, low birth weight and premature births; a link also exists between periodontal disease and diabetes (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2000


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SOURCE Ohio Dental Association
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