Dental Assistance for Children – Give Kids a Smile Day

Today is National Give Kids a Smile Day – a day set aside starting in 2003 by the American Dental Association (ADA) to reach out to the community and offer dental services to underprivileged children. Today, the effort by the ADA has expanded to include more than 1,500 outreach events throughout the year. To date, these events have provided dental screenings and treatment to more than 400,000 children who may have not gotten dental care otherwise due to being uninsured or underinsured.

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It’s Give Kids a Smile Day!

While events like those coordinated by the ADA are helpful, dental care remains the most common unmet health need of children in the US today. While 9 million children don’t have health insurance, more than 18 million children have no access to dental services. As a result, it’s estimated that nearly 70 percent of children experience decay in their permanent teeth by age 19.

So, what options are there for children to receive dental care?

For those children who are covered under Medicaid, dental services are offered as part of the “Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment” benefit. Each state sets its own schedule of periodic dental screenings for which a child is given a referral to a dentist. If a child is found to have a condition that is deemed medically necessary to correct, the state is required to provide treatment, even if it falls outside of what’s normally covered by a Medicaid plan.

There are also a number of state-based organizations dedicated to providing dental assistance for children in need. While some hold free-screening days for any child, others provide dental care to kids with any form of dental insurance. Some also help families to apply for public insurance programs or offer discounts based on income to families who are ineligible for insurance coverage. A Web search of “dental assistance for kids” in your state should yield some resources worth investigating.

Has your child seen a dentist in the past six months? Use Vitals to find a highly-rated dentist near you.

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