For about six years now, the Give Kids a Smile program (sponsored by the American Dental Association) has helped approximately 2,240 uninsured and underprivileged children regain the healthy smile that they deserve. Each year in February, more than 250 dentists throughout Indiana will open their doors to those children in need of dental care. For free. Although this program mainly assists the parents who cannot afford the time or finances for dental services for their kids, it’s solely for the children.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and Dr. Catherine Periolet, 4626 W. Jefferson Blvd., is once again doing her part to ensure the well-being of her young patients. “It’s important that we establish proper dental hygiene habits as early as possible, so that these children know how to avoid problems in the future.” This is highly helpful, considering the cost for cavities, crowns and root canals (not to mention the pain).
This moment of free dental services does not stop at teeth cleaning. Most dentists go above and beyond standard procedures by including x-rays, extractions, restorations and friendly inspections. Naturally, some priorities come before others, and according to Dr. Catherine Periolet, knowledge is power. “We like to first concentrate on getting the children in for a standard cleaning before we take x-rays and search for what else may be wrong. Decay and pain are our first priorities because by showing these kids how to take care of their teeth, we can solve half of their problems.”
The Give Kids a Smile program intends on servicing children that do not have dental insurance, who are on Medicaid but do not have a local provider and range from ages 16 and under who have had trouble with untreated dental pain and cavities. Some children don’t know they have a problem with their teeth because they haven’t had the proper amount of opportunities to see their local dentists. Others are in severe pain, but are uninsured and therefore cannot afford dental care. Either way, these kids are in serious need of help.
Last year in February, the dentists of Indiana managed to donate over $476,000 worth of dental treatment to those in need. Although they plan on continuing this program for many years to come, they are not alone in their services. Give Kids a Smile program has been teaming up with local Head Start programs, school nurses, counselors and caseworkers regarding the required eligibility. “The reason why we get so involved with these people is because they deal with children on a regular basis. If we spread the word to them and they notice something wrong, those people know where to direct the children. The more people we have to notice these problems, the better.”
Although this program is not a first come-first served basis, there is still hope to get your children in for help. Give Kids a Smile requires parental permission and other documentation, as well as a scheduled appointment in advance. Dr. Periolet notes, “Our main goal is to find a dentist for these children to go to for many years to come and to make them feel comfortable about being serviced.” For a complete list of cities involving volunteers, go to www.indental.org/gkas.com. Parents or family members are asked to call (800) 304-8963 to schedule an appointment. These wonderful doctors will try matching you to a local dentist in accordance to where you live, so convenience is a high priority.
“Dentists can’t do this alone. With Give Kids a Smile, we can help some children get the dental care they need, but a one-day event will never be enough. Charity is not a health care system.” –Dr. Catherine Periolet
Doors will open on February 1st, 2008 for one day only. Please call and make an appointment today. It’s for the children.
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