Dentists to 'Adopt' Kids for One Day
February 14, 2003
A group of generous East Bay dentists are donating their time so that some youngsters can get the oral health care they badly need.
The nine dentists are teaming up with Contra Costa Health Service's Oral Health Program, the Contra Costa Dental Society and the California Dental Association to sponsor the First Annual Give a Kid a Smile Day on February 21. The volunteers and county staff will be at six locations in Contra Costa conducting exams and other very important dental activities. (See attached for time and locations and numbers to call for appointments). The participating dentists include Annabelle Carnice, Timothy Farley, Stephen Gold, LuJuan Hall, Patricia Huang, Sahar Jaffrey, Thomas Lenhart, Susan Nuttle and Sanjay Patel.
"We know that two out of every three children in Contra Costa need oral health treatment," says Lynn Pilant, manager of the County's Seal in A Smile program. "This is only one day and only a small group of children but it will make a big difference in their lives."
Pilant says the county screens 15,000 students each year and finds 25% of them have untreated cavities that leave gaping holes in the children's mouths. In Contra Costa County, there are an estimated 21,000 children ages 0-18 years old that are at risk for dental disease. There are not enough county resources to meet the need and only two pediatric dentists in all of Contra Costa who take Denta-Cal, the insurance for low-income families.
"We are very grateful to the dentists who have volunteered their time and offices to help out," says Pilant, adding that untreated dental problems can lead to serious infection, poor performance in school and chronic pain.
According to Pilant, dentists aren't the only ones who can help. Having children drink fluoridated water helps children's teeth develop properly. Stopping infants from sucking on baby bottles containing fruit juices, formula or other sugary drinks for long periods of time can also help. Teaching children how to brush their teeth what foods to eat and which, like sugared beverages, to avoid is also important.
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