'Smile-a-bration' offers kids free dental care


More than 7,000 Colorado children without dental insurance will receive free dental care today as part of "Smile-a-bration," which will serve as a platform to enroll children in the Colorado Child Health Program Plus (CHP+).

CHP+ provides dental insurance to Colorado families who can't afford dental insurance.

Dr. Neil Ganz of Rabbit Ears Dental said he has 10 to 15 children scheduled for today's Smile-a-bration.

"Dental insurance is hard to come by if you don't work for the city or schools or some of the big businesses," Ganz said. "A lot of these kids (without insurance) were falling through the cracks and winding up in the emergency room. Hopefully, this program will ease some of the problems. It will certainly be one less reason not to take them in."

Delta Dental, a dental insurance company, has earmarked $300,000 for the program, which will pay participating dentists for a limited number of procedures, including diagnostic and preventative examinations, minor restorations and emergency services.

Patients will be referred to community dental providers for any needed follow-up services or services not covered by the program.

The program received an overwhelming response, said Molly Osberg, of the Colorado Dental Association Media Relations.

"We had to turn some kids away," Osberg said. "But we're glad to help the ones we can, because lack of dental care can lead to decay problems. In Colorado, this is a serious problem."

Just more than half of Colorado residents have dental insurance, leaving about 2 million uninsured, according to CHP+.

Dental decay is the most common disease affecting American children. Untreated, dental decay can affect a child's speech, eating patterns and ability to concentrate in school, according to the Surgeon General's 2000 Report in "Oral Health in America."

More than 7.8 million school hours were lost to Colorado children with oral pain, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health.

To apply children for CHP+, call 1-800-359-1991 or visit www.cchp.org.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com


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