Local event highlights low-income children's need for dental care

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On April 6, an estimated 20 children from low-income Putnam County families will receive free dental services ranging from dental screenings and cleanings to sealants and fillings as part of Give Kids a Smile Day.

The event is normally scheduled nationally in the month of February. The Putnam County date was scheduled at a later date 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 will be donating his staff and services.

Dr. Hennette and his staff will be working closely with Putnam County school nurses to provide needed dental care for eligible children ages 4-16. Only children who have been screened by the county schools' nursing staff are eligible.

Dental cavities (caries) are present in about 25 percent of all children aged 2-11years. Recently, it has been reported that preschoolers are seeing an increase in the percentage and severity of this disease process. It is a disease that is five times more common than asthma. It has been ranked 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."

Dr. 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.

If any families in the Putnam County area would like more information regarding this program, they may contact Dr. Hennette's office or their school nursing staff. Space is limited.

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