Free children’s dental exams to be offered Feb. 3

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School of Dentistry will launch National Children’s Dental Health Month by offering free examinations, appropriate X-rays and fluoride treatments to children ages one to 17 from 8:45 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 in the WVU Pediatric Dental Clinic.

The appointments are part of the annual “Give Kids a Smile!” national dental access program of the American Dental Association and the West Virginia Dental Association. WVU dental and dental hygiene students will perform the care under the supervision of faculty. Appointments are required, and space is limited. Beginning on Monday, Jan. 23, appointments for the free exams can be made by calling 304-293-0401.

“Now in its 10th year at WVU, this program allows our dental and dental hygiene students and faculty to reach out and provide dental care to those in our community who cannot otherwise afford it,” David A. Felton, D.D.S., dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, said. “In these difficult economic times, we encourage area residents to take advantage of this opportunity to visit the dental clinic, obtain a free examination, X-rays and fluoride treatments, and to learn about the other services we can provide to their children.”

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health states that nearly one in six children over age 5 will have a cavity by age 17, and nearly eight in 10 children already have dental decay. Dental problems result in nearly 51 million hours of missed school time each year.

Complications arising from untreated diseases of the mouth can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. More than one-third of West Virginia adults have lost six or more teeth as a result of decay or gum disease. This is almost twice the national average.

“Starting proper dental care early in life will help children form good oral health habits that will carry into adulthood. Dental visits beginning no later than 1 year of age has been shown to prevent or reduce the severity of dental disease,” Elliot Shulman, D.D.S., associate professor of pediatric dentistry, said. “It is vitally important that parents take an active role in their children’s oral health education and supervise or assist them in tooth brushing. The WVU School of Dentistry has a long tradition of working to improve the oral health of citizens of the state. We are pleased to be a part of this effort.”

Attention reporters and editors: Media availability for Give Kids a Smile will occur during the afternoon session, which will be held from 1 to 3:45 p.m. If you are interested in covering Give Kids a Smile, please call the HSC News Service at 304-293-7087 in advance.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 01-16-12