Contact:  Suzanne A. Sparling, APR
Office:   321-433-7022 Cell: 321-537-6986
Email: sparlings@easternflorida.edu

BCC Hosts FREE Children's Dental Health Fair

October 3, 2012 - The dental programs at Brevard Community College are teaming up with local dental professionals to host the 4th Annual Happy Smiles Happy Kids free dental health fair for children under 16 without access to dental insurance. The project was made possible again this year thanks to the generosity of local community leaders, Guy and Delores Spearman.

The event will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center (Building 20, Room 111) on the BCC Cocoa Campus, 1519 Clearlake Road, Cocoa. Appointments are not necessary and walk-ins will be accepted. The first 100 arrivals will receive free T-shirts. In addition, free toothbrushes will be available to participants while supplies last.

Free, limited dental care will be provided to those who participate, including basic dental screenings, dental education, fluoride varnish application, sealants for those who qualify, and limited dental treatment as determined by the dentist. 

"This is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local children," said Dr. Jim Richey, President of Brevard Community College. "Our dental hygiene and dental assisting programs are two of the best in Florida. We're pleased to showcase our programs, our students, and put a healthy smile on a child's face."

The event has grown the past several years, often ending with a waiting list for families wanting their children to be seen. In 2011, 64 volunteers completed more than 321 screenings, provided 107 fluoride treatments, placed 204 dental sealants, provided 17 child cleanings, took 49 sets of X-rays, filled 45 patient cavities, pulled seven teeth and referred 44 children for additional services.

Those figures reflect the dire need for dental health care as shown in a study by the Pew Center on the States that examined dental policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2011, entitled Making Coverage Matter. Five states – including Florida – received a grade of "F" for the second year in a row for meeting two or fewer benchmarks for children's dental health.

Tens of millions of children have dental coverage through private insurance or public programs like Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). But for many children coverage doesn't always lead to actual care.

Due to shrinking revenue bases and continued economic problems, elected officials have had to make difficult decisions about funding choices, including dental services and coverage through Medicaid.

Studies show that kids who don't receive appropriate dental care are more likely to miss school days and fall behind academically. Children living below the poverty level are especially vulnerable.

According to the Pew report, access to care continues to be a major issue with about 16.5 million children going without even basic care each year.   In fact, research shows these children often use expensive emergency room services more often and face worsened job prospects as adults compared to their peers who do receive care.

For more information on the Happy Smiles Happy Kids Children's Dental health Fair, call 321-433-7570. To access The PEW report, visit online at www.pewcenteronthestates.org.