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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: January 29, 2013


On Saturday, February 2, 2013 an estimated 250 children from local low-income families will receive free dental services ranging from screenings to dental restorations as part of the 10th Annual Give Kids A Smile Day held nationwide. The all-day event will be held in two Delaware locations; the Dental Group, 34359 Carpenter's Way, Lewes, and Dental Associates of Delaware, 1415 Foulk Road, Suite 200, Wilmington.

Pre-registration and signed parental permission is required. Local children are selected through agencies only, including the Head Start Program. To sign up, call 302-645-8993 for the Dental Group in Lewes or 302-477-4900 for Dental Associates of Delaware in Wilmington.

Last year, more than 50,000 dentists and other volunteers nationwide, including 199 in Delaware, participated in Give Kids A Smile. The program was first held in 2003 by the American Dental Association (ADA) to provide care and raise awareness of the importance of access to dental care for children from low-income families.

According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of U.S. children ages 2-9 suffer from untreated tooth decay. While poor diet and oral hygiene certainly play a role, cavities are actually caused by a disease called caries, which is five times more common than asthma and the most common childhood illness.

The National Institutes of Health report that 80 percent of tooth decay is now found in just 25 percent of children, primarily from low-income families. Public health programs such as Medicaid are available to help underserved children, but utilization rates are low.

"Dentists can't do this alone," said Dr. Anthony Vattilana, president of the Delaware State Dental Society. "With Give Kids A Smile, we can help some children get the dental care they need, but a one-day event will never be enough. Children's oral health is everyone's business - not just dentists. We need to participate as a community and as a nation. We need to find the political will to solve this problem. It won't happen overnight. But if enough people start working on it, it will happen."

For additional information, contact Dr. Glen Goleburn - 302-836-3750. This release was sent on behalf of the Delaware State Dental Society; a partner with the Division of Public Health with a shared goal of improving access to dental services for Delaware families.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.