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Open Wide! Nation's Dentists Address Access With Free Care for Kids
Date:1/30/2008

Low-income children to benefit from annual Give Kids A Smile! events

CHICAGO, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- February is National Children's Dental Health Month and on Feb. 1, more than 51,000 dental professionals will provide free dental services to more than 500,000 children from low-income families, at more than 2,000 sites nationwide. It's all part of the American Dental Association's (ADA) sixth annual Give Kids A Smile program, which offers educational materials, screenings and, where possible, free dental care such as cleaning, fluoride treatments, fillings and even more intensive care.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease affecting American children, five times more common than asthma according to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General. And reversing a half century of progress, recent CDC data shows that tooth decay is on the rise among preschoolers. Untreated oral disease has been linked to childhood infections and more catastrophic illnesses such as the untreated abscess that took the life in 2007 of a 12-year-old Maryland boy, Deamonte Driver. More commonly, tooth decay greatly restricts children's daily activities and results in the loss of many millions of hours of classroom time each year.

"Dental care remains a critical unmet health care need among America's children," said Mark J. Feldman, D.M.D., president of the American Dental Association. "The ADA and dentists across the nation are engaged in creating public awareness of this critical need and trying to extend access to dental care to more low-income children. To this end we are celebrating Feb. 1st with our sixth annual Give Kids A Smile program, to help put children on the road to a lifetime of good oral health."

The ADA launched its national Give Kids A Smile program to combat what the U.S. Surgeon General called "a silent epidemic" of dental disease and to encourage parents, health professionals, policymakers and everyone who cares about children to address
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SOURCE American Dental Association
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