Local Dentists Give Kids Something to Smile About
|Anthony Ruperto Felix, 3, gives his approval to Dr. Rob Kelso and Dental Assistant Saundra Price after learning he has no cavities.|
The word tooth ache is a misnomer. The intense pain caused by tooth decay or infection prompts most of us to seek immediate relief from a professional. But what if you’re only three years old? Unfortunately, thousands of children suffer from poor dental health and the consequences include poor eating habits, speech problems, low self-esteem and inability to concentrate on learning or playing activities. Unchecked Infection in tooth abscesses has even caused death in children. Low-income families are most affected, with 80 percent of tooth decay found in just 25 percent of children.
On Friday, Feb. 6, for the fourth year, local dentists from the Second District Dental Society used the Knox County Health Department’s (KCHD) Dental Clinic for Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) Day, which provides free preventive and restorative dental services to children from low-income families.
“Unfortunately, we’ll see only a small number of the many, many children who desperately need dental care,” said Dr. Susan Orwick-Barnes, dentist and GKAS chairperson. “Give Kids a Smile day is about raising awareness on the problem and getting people thinking on possible solutions. We applaud the professionals who are stepping up to donate their time and skills and encourage others to get involved. With more volunteer dental professionals, we could serve more children.”
|Dr. Kerri Everson checks four-year-old Nancy Wong's teeth during Give Kids a Smile day on Feb. 6.|
During GKAS Day, which is always on the first Friday in February, each child receives necessary x-rays and dental home care instructions, has a dental cleaning and fluoride treatment, and is seen by a dentist who volunteers his or her services. Children take home a goody bag containing a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a prize. Children who need additional services are referred to private dentists who volunteer their services.
GKAS Day was implemented in 2002 by the American Dental Association (ADA) to encourage dental societies, dental schools and practicing dentists across the country to donate dental services to children who might not normally receive treatment. The Second District Dental Society, which is the local branch of the Tennessee Dental Association (TDA) and the ADA, began its local program seven years ago (this is the fourth year using the KCHD dental facility) with enough dentists, supplies and clinic space to treat 15-20 children. In 2008, 32 children were treated at the Knox County Health Department dental facility, with donated dental supplies and doctor’s hours valued at $6,000 for the day. Donated services in private offices totaled $2,500.
|Annie Vargas, 5, shows off her pearly whites.|