How free dental care for children began
Drs. Jeff Dalin and B. Ray Storm cobbled together the first Give Kids a Smile Day in 2002 in a soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic in St. Louis. They helped 400 children, and the American Dental Association recognized that children nationwide could be served through volunteers.
In 2003, the ADA made the first Friday in February the day when volunteers could meet underserved children's dental needs by offering their services at no charge. About 10,000 dentists, together with 30,000 supporting dental team members, volunteer their services to help over 350,000 underserved children receive free dental health care each year.
Dentists, oral hygienists, office personnel, and ordinary people like you operating the telephones have helped more than 5.5 million kids. Anyone can easily get dental health care for an underserved child on GKAS day.
The need for early child dental care
An increasing number of children are getting more dental problems earlier in life than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states:
- 20% of children under 11 have an untreated decaying tooth.
- 13% of teenagers have an untreated decaying tooth.
- Kids from low-income households are more than twice as likely to have tooth problems than those in higher-income homes.
The benefits of early child dental care
Getting your child started receiving dental care as early as possible is essential in developing life-long oral hygiene practices. Early visits usually focus on correcting problems in time, education, prevention, and creating a "dental home" to establish an ongoing relationship. There are many benefits to early oral health services, including:
- Prevention of dental problems. When your child develops good oral hygiene early, she will avoid future pain, suffering, and expense.
- Financial savings. The longer dental problems go untreated, the greater the damage is resulting in children needing more expensive treatments.
- Improved self-esteem. Clean, beautiful teeth give children something to feel good about.
Where to get free oral health care for your child on GKAS day
To find the Give Kids a Smile event nearest you, call the American Dental Association at 1-844-490-GKAS to get the numbers of locally participating dentists. You can then make a free appointment by calling the dentist of your choice.
Dental schools often provide the most comprehensive dental health care services on GKAS day. Your child may receive a cleaning, filling, extraction, or even a crown free of charge.
Give Kids a Smile Day is always the first Friday in February, but many participating dental health care providers are giving free services for a whole week or even the entire month.
How to get your child's prescription drugs discounted
Dentists often prescribe an antibacterial drug like amoxicillin or clindamycin to combat or prevent infections after diagnosis. You can get a discount on prescriptions nationally by showing online or offline pharmacists your free, easy to get rxless card.