Free dental care available

'Smile-a-bration' program provides care for uninsured children

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For one day, parents can walk into the dentist's office with their children and not worry about how much it is going to cost. On April 30, two local dentists will provide free dental care for uninsured children as part of Delta Dental's "Smile-a-bration."

They will offer exams, cleanings, fillings, X-rays, sealants and extractions to any uninsured child up to 18 years old.

Interested parents should call now to make an appointment. Appointments will be made from Tuesday to April 1 or until all appointments are filled.

This is the third year for the statewide program.

Last year, 3,300 children received free dental care during "Smile-a-bration."

"We provide all kinds of care, but parents should know that we do sealants, which are important for kids," said Delta Dental spokeswoman Peggy Mackinnon. "Sealants can prevent tooth decay. Dental decay is the most common disease affecting children -- five times the rate of asthma, seven times the rate of hay fever."

Tooth decay, she said, can affect every part of child's life, including his or her ability to learn.

"When you are in pain, it is difficult to concentrate," she said. Children from families that don't have medical insurance are much less likely to receive dental care, which can affect them for the rest of their adult lives.

The Delta Dental Plan puts $1.2 million into the "Smile-a-bration" program, as well as countless hours of volunteer time.

Delta Dental reimburses dentists who participate, but many participating dentists donate their fees back to the program.

Appointments can be made by calling (866) 588-4720 Tuesday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Parents are encouraged to make appointments early.

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