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Free dental screenings for children Friday

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:07 PM

The sixth annual Give Kids a Smile Day will be held in Huron County from noon to 4 p.m. Friday at the Huron County General Health District's Norwalk Office. Give Kids a Smile Day in Huron County is sponsored by the North Central Ohio Dental Society.

Local dentists are teaming up to provide free dental screenings to children up to 18 years of age. The screenings are intended to serve children who do not have access to a dentist. The screening will include pre-cancer screening, soft and hard tissue inspection, and oral hygiene instruction on brushing and flossing. Those with an immediate need for dental services and an inability to pay for the needed follow-up care are referred to the Dental Options program.

Huron County organizer for Give Kids a Smile Day, Dr. Joseph Kim, said that the Huron County Give Kids a Smile Day is one of the strongest in the state. Last year the event screened 68 children.

This year, the event organizers hope to screen between 65 and 80 children. Appointments are still available by calling the health district at (419) 668-1652 or (888) 694-2443, ext. 252.

Kim explained why Give Kids a Smile Day is so important to the community and why local dentists are committed to it, "Lack of dentistry is the No. 1 unmet child healthcare need in Ohio; that is just a documented fact."

Kim's claim comes from four recent surveys: 2004 Ohio Family Health Survey, 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, and the Ohio Third Grade (2004-05) and Head Start (2002-03) Oral Health Surveys.

According to the 2007 Huron County Health Assessment, Huron County was tied for the fewest youth in Northwest Ohio who had regular dental visits. Only 65 percent of Huron County's children had seen a dentist in the past year.

"Give Kids a Smile Day is not the answer to Huron County's dental access problem, but it is a start," said Tim Hollinger, Huron County health commissioner. "We are grateful to our dentists who are willing to volunteer their time to screen as many as 80 children who would not otherwise see a dentist."

Both Kim and Hollinger stressed that unmet dental needs become unmet health needs. "Regular dental care is not a luxury. It is a part of overall healthcare," said Hollinger. "We urge parents who have not been able to afford a dental visit for their children to take this opportunity and schedule a dental health screening on Feb. 1."

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