As we sat down to write this blog about dental care and Give Kids a Smile Day, we reminisced about our dreaded childhood trips to the dentist. The bright lights, the sharp tools, and the flavored fluoride that never seemed to taste quite like it was advertised, are only some of our unfavorable memories. And who doesn’t recall the small talk the dentist makes while you wonder why they couldn’t seem to understand that one cannot speak with a mouth filled with dental instruments. But we digress… As we grew up, we began to understand the incredible privilege of having access to routine dental services that so many kids go without. As any dentist or pediatrician will tell you, oral health is an important part of overall health.
Over twenty million children in the United States do not have access to dental insurance and proper care. For over seven years now, the Community Health Center, Inc (CHC). has been fighting to lower this startling statistic by participating in the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) Day. On this day, CHC dedicates their dental offices to seeing kids who face barriers in accessing dental care. In addition, private community dentists collaborate with the health center to see kids in their own offices. The free dental services offered will include cleanings, exams, sealants, fillings, fluoride treatments, and dental education. This year, on the designated day of GKAS, Friday February 3, 2012, all of CHC’s dental offices’ schedules will be filled with kids who will benefit greatly from the services provided. CHC will also have mobile dental chairs at the New Britain High School, a local New Britain public housing community and the YWCA of New Britain. Macdonough Elementary school Kindergarteners will be getting a special treat on the day of GKAS by participating in an interactive, dental education/Recess Rocks extravaganza.
The culmination of all of these services are needed, as well as fun for the kids. Yet, as most of you understand, one day is not enough; that is why CHC’s Give Kids a Smile Day is certainly “more than just a day”. The Community Health Center, Inc. sees kids with state insurance daily and has a sliding fee scale of six different levels so that uninsured families can get their kids the care they need by paying what they can. Our statewide Mobile Dental Program provides services in over one hundred schools across the state, providing further access to those who face barriers. So yes, we are excited to be working on the Give Kids a Smile Day Event but we are even more excited to serve as AmeriCorps members at an organization that aims to achieve healthier communities every day.
Written by AmeriCorps members: Asya Tsarkova & Hope Brigham