Children around the First State can get their pearly whites checked for free this Saturday in Milford.
Cavities, tooth decay and other dental diseases are preventable, but not every child has good oral hygiene.
“If we can get them in the chair and identify a problem when it’s small, it’s gonna be more cost effective, potentially less invasive and potentially less painful,” said Robert Kacmarcik, the former president of the Delaware State Dental Society.
According to a 2012 study on dentists in Delaware, Sussex County is considered an underserved area for dental needs because it "exceeds the Health Professional Shortage Area threshold of 5,000:1." Dentists in Sussex County see approximately 113 patients each week - over 20 more than the amount of patients New Castle County and Kent County professionals see.
Delaware Division of Public Health dental clinics serve Medicaid and uninsured communities and the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Health Services has made efforts to promote oral health in the state. One of the more significant efforts was using a special loan repayment award from the Oral Health Workforce to recruit pediatric dentists for Sussex County in 2013. This was a stride for the county, which had did not have a single pediatric dentist prior.
The Delaware Oral Health Program conducted a 2013 survey on third grade children in Delaware public schools, and found 47 percent of the children had cases of tooth decay in their permanent teeth and 16 percent of the children have not been treated for it.
Delaware State Dental Society wants to prevent dental diseases in children by detecting and treating symptoms early, Kacmarcik said. Members of the dental society are providing free check-ups and care to children in Milford this Saturday. It’s part of the society’s annual “Give Kids A Smile” program which brings free dental services to underserved children locally and nationally.
“If a child presents to the office and they do have a tooth that has a cavity, then we have the ability to fill that cavity right there Saturday,” Kacmarcik said, “and that child would receive some treatment and they may be done until their next six-month visit.”
Give Kids A Smile was launched by the American Dental Association in 2003. Each year, it has held over 1,500 events, educating and improving oral hygiene for over 400,000 children nationwide.
Children who attend Saturday’s event will be screened, cleaned and treated for early cavities and tooth decay, among other dental issues.
“The goal is to bring awareness - to bring awareness to the problem of childhood cavities, to bring awareness of the benefits of prevention to the benefits of early treatment,” Kacmarcik said.
Give Kids A Smile will be held from 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the office of Norman S. Steward, Jr., DDS at 214 S. Walnut St. in Milford.
Kacmarcik said over 140 children have already been registered and space is limited. To register, call 302-368-7634 or visit delawarestatedentalsociety.org for more information.