Weeklong program offers free dental care for uninsured kids

January 17, 2013
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Kids from families who can’t afford dental care and have no insurance have a reason to smile next month.

Area dentists with ties to the Colorado Dental Association and Colorado Springs Dental Society are offering free care for uninsured kids ages 1 to 17 as part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile Day on Feb. 1. But in the Pikes Peak area, it’s more like Give Kids a Smile Week: Appointments are being scheduled for Feb. 1-8.

Participants include 20 private dentists and their staff, the Kids in Need of Dentistry (KIND) Clinic and Peak Vista Community Health Centers.

“The program is designed primarily for dental care, not just for screenings and exams, and for work that can be accomplished in an hour,” said Sharyn Markus, executive director of the Colorado Springs Dental Society.

If follow-up care is needed, Markus said most of the dentists will work with parents to make it happen.

The need for such programs is great, Markus said. According to a 2011 “Health Report Card” issued by the Colorado Health Foundation in 2012, Colorado ranks 38th out of the 50 states in the number of kids reported to have received one or more preventive dental visits in the previous year.

Kids from households below the federal poverty level were far less likely to have received preventive care, the report says. It may be one reason why about 60 percent of low-income kindergartners in Colorado have tooth decay, with at least one-quarter of the cases going untreated, according to another report prepared for The Colorado Trust.

“People are just so grateful that such a program exists,” Markus said about Give Kids a Smile. “There’s nowhere they can turn to.”

The program is open only to kids who are not covered by any type of dental insurance, including Medicaid and CHP+.

To schedule an appointment with a private dentist, call the Colorado Springs Dental Society at 598-5161. To schedule through KIND, call 227-1018. To schedule through Peak Vista, call 344-6448.

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