Give Kids A Smile® Program Highlights Children's Need for Dental Care
DES MOINES, IA - Tomorrow at Broadlawns Medical Center’s Department of Oral Medicine, an estimated 25 children from local low-income families will receive free dental services from the staff of the Dental Clinic, a local pediatric dentist and five University of Iowa College of Dentistry students. The children receive the care as part of the national Give Kids a Smile initiative during Children's Dental Health Month. In Iowa last year, over 4,100 children were served through the program by nearly 170 Iowa dentists and over 600 other volunteers. Nationwide, 53,000 dental team members participated in the program.
"It is challenging for families during a tough economy to focus attention on their children's oral health," said Dr. Tom Wilson of Des Moines. "Unfortunately, neglect can lead to greater health problems that cannot be ignored. With Give Kids a Smile®, we have the opportunity to treat kids that might not otherwise be seen and educate the public on what more needs to be done to help children get the dental care they need."
Nearly 1 in 4 children aged 2 to 11 years old have untreated cavities in their baby teeth according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institutes of Health report that 80 percent of tooth decay is found in just 25 percent of children, primarily from low-income families.
"Here in Iowa, only 41% of children enrolled in Medicaid received any dental service in 2005," said Dr. Wilson. "That number isn't surprising when you understand that our state Medicaid program spends less than 1.5% on dental services for children and adults." *Visit: http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/ada/26563/docs/medicaid_eligible_kids_receiving_services.doc
"With the reality of hard economic times setting in, more and more Iowans will need Medicaid for their health care needs," said Dr. Wilson. "Despite a much needed increase in Medicaid funding last year, the unfortunate reality is that reimbursement levels for Iowa dentists are still set at pre-2000 levels, which many times doesn't cover the actual cost of services. We hope that by seeing the increasing demand of dental health care at events like Give Kids a Smile®, our policymakers will do more to ensure coverage for Iowa's children and families."
"Dentists cannot do this alone. Children's oral health is everyone's business. We need to participate as a community and as a nation. We need to find the political will to solve this problem," said Dr. Wilson. "It won't happen overnight. But if enough people continue working on it, it will happen."
Background on Broadlawns Medical Center:
With a history as a community health center dating back to 1903, Broadlawns Medical Center first opened its doors as a hospital to the residents of Polk County on April 13, 1924. Over the years, Broadlawns has adapted to the changing demands of public health care and remained true to its mission of offering quality health services to all Polk County residents and training tomorrow's health care professionals. Today, Broadlawns Medical Center is composed of an acute care community hospital serving medical, surgical, mental health and primary care needs; a 60-member physician practice overseeing numerous specialty clinics and outpatient services; a family medicine residency program.
Broadlawns Dental Clinic provides comprehensive and emergency dental services to the residents of Polk County, including those who have difficulty accessing oral health care due to a lack of financial resources or who are physically or mentally compromised. The clinic hours are Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 4:30 pm. Iowa Care, Medicaid, third party insurance and private pay are accepted for services. For additional information, please call the dental clinic at 515-282-2421.
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Editor's Note: Due to the need for signed parental permission and other documentation, most Give Kids a Smile® events can only see children who are registered in advance, in most cases through schools and social service clubs and agencies. Please do not indicate to the public that the event is open to unregistered children.
Give Kids a Smile® would not be possible without the generous support of our corporate sponsors, who provided more than $4 million in products and services for the 2008 event. Visit the Give Kids a Smile® home page at www.ada.org/goto/gkas for information regarding our 2009 sponsors, Colgate-Palmolive, Henry Schein Dental, and Dexis Digital X-Ray.
The Iowa Dental Association is the largest, most representative dental association in Iowa. The mission of the 146-year-old organization is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public through efforts like Iowa Mission of Mercy (www.iowamom.org) and Donated Dental Services (www.nfdh.org,) to promote the art and science of dentistry, and to represent the interests of the members of the dental profession and the public which it serves. For more information on the Iowa Dental Association, visit www.iowadental.org or call 1-800-828-2181.