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January 28, 2011 > Local Dentists Give Kids A Smile

Local Dentists Give Kids A Smile

Free Dental Screenings Offered to Reduce Tooth Decay in Children

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), causing pain, difficulty concentrating, school absences, and other quality of life issues. But with good dental care, tooth decay or cavities can be prevented. That's why local dentists are joining forces to Give Kids A Smile, offering free dental screenings to children from low-income families on Saturday, February 5.

Children ages 4 to 14 are eligible. The free screenings will be offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry Dental Clinic, located at 1203 J Street in Union City.

"The physical and emotional pain often associated with tooth decay hurts children's ability to do well in school," said Dr. Ruchi Sahota, a local dentist and member of the Washington Hospital staff. "Children have to be healthy to learn and children with cavities are not healthy. But cavities only go away with treatment from a dentist. They don't heal on their own. Tooth decay only gets worse without treatment."

In its eighth year locally, Give Kids A Smile is held annually as part of a national campaign sponsored by the American Dental Association. Dentists across the nation volunteer their time to give educational, preventive, and restorative services to underserved children.

The local event is organized by the Southern Alameda Dental Society, which is affiliated with the California and American Dental Associations. Sahota is president of the Southern Alameda Dental Society and a major force behind the Union City event.

"Good dental health is so important, but there are many families who don't have access to regular dental care," she said. "I want to make sure we treat as many kids as possible on February 5."

Major Volunteer Effort

About 25 dentists and 30 other dental staff like hygienists and dental assistants will volunteer their time to screen 200 to 300 children during Give Kids A Smile. Every child will have their teeth examined and many will receive treatment. Those who require follow-up after the event will be referred to the Adopt-a-Smile program, run by volunteer dentists from the Southern Alameda Dental Society.

"We really are grateful to all the dentists and other staff who are willing to volunteer their time on a Saturday," Sahota said. "I think we all see this as so important for the health of our children."

She added that part of the goal for February 5 is to get children used to visiting the dentist and learn more about how to take good care of their teeth.

"Kids see that getting a checkup isn't so bad," she said. "We also want children and their parents to understand that tooth decay is preventable."

Sahota offered these tips for avoiding tooth decay:

Brush regularly. Make sure your children brush their teeth twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Floss. Flossing daily is important because it not only prevents tooth decay, it also prevents gum disease by removing the plaque from between the teeth.

Limit sugar. Kids love sugar, but sugary drinks and snacks like soda and candy cause tooth decay. Make sure kids eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

Regular dental checkups. Even if your children take good care of their teeth, Sahota recommends that they visit the dentist regularly.

"The dentist can catch cavities while they are still small," Sahota said "You don't want to wait until your kids are in pain. That's when it becomes a big problem. But it's hard for families who don't have dental insurance, so we hope they come and see us on February 5."

"Give Kids a Smile" - Free Children's Dental Care

To learn more about the free "Give Kids A Smile" dental clinic that will take place on Saturday, February 5, at the Union City Dental Care Center, please call (510) 489-5200.

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