April 11 event highlights need for children's dental care

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An estimated 20 children from Putnam County families will receive free dental services ranging from dental screenings and cleanings to sealants, fillings or more Friday, April 11 as part of the national Give Kids a Smile Day which is normally scheduled nationally in the month of February.

The Putnam County date was scheduled in April this year to be less dependent on the potential for bad weather during February.

The Give Kids a Smile Program was inaugurated in 2003 by the American Dental Association (ADA) to provide care and raise awareness of the importance of access to dental care for low income children.

Dr. John Hennette of Greencastle Pediatric Dentistry is donating his staff and services to the cause.

Hennette and his staff will be working closely with the county schools nurses to provide needed dental care for eligible children ages 4-16.

Only children who have been screened by the county schools' nursing staffs are eligible for the program.

Dental cavities (caries) are present in more than 60 percent of all children by age five. Recently, it has been reported that preschoolers are seeing an increase in the percentage and severity of this disease process. It ranks as the most common reason for absenteeism from work or from school.

"Putnam County children are not immune from this disease process," Dr. Hennette said. "I have been involved with cases where the children are no longer able to sleep, eat or focus in school and have reached the point where the only alternative is a mouth full of crowns or the extracting of teeth that cannot be saved."

Hennette and his staff hope to make good oral health a priority for all children in the community. They seek to educate policymakers and parents that good oral hygiene is integral to overall health and preventive measures like fluoridation and sealants result in long-term savings.

Any families in the Putnam County area who would like more information regarding the program are urged to contact their school nursing staff. Space is limited.

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