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EFSC Hosts Free Children’s Dental Health Fair
February 12, 2014 - The dental programs at Eastern Florida State College are teaming up with local dental professionals to host the 5th 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 Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center (Building 20, Room 111) on the Eastern Florida State College Cocoa Campus, 1519 Clearlake Road, Cocoa.
Appointments are not necessary and walk-ins will be accepted. 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 treatment as determined by the dentist.
The first 100 arrivals will receive free T-shirts. In addition, free toothbrushes will be available to participants while supplies last and children will enjoy a puppet show while waiting to be seen by the dental professionals.
Additional activities have also been planned, along with prevention education for parents and children.
“We’re proud to host the event again this year and to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local children,” said Dr. Jim Richey, President of Eastern Florida State 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. Last year, however, children not seen were referred to both the Brevard County Health Department and the Brevard Health Alliance for additional services.
In 2012, 40 dental professionals volunteered and completed more than 145 screenings, provided 113 fluoride treatments, placed 245 dental sealants, provided 18 child cleanings, took 38 sets of X-rays, filled 22 patient cavities and pulled nine teeth.
Those figures continue to reflect the need for dental health care, especially among children and youth in Brevard County.
In an annual study by the Pew Center on the States that examined dental policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, entitled Making Coverage Matter, Florida showed only modest improvement, moving from a ranking of “F” to a “D” in its effort to meet two or more benchmarks for children’s dental health.
The slight improvement stemmed from decreased restrictions made possible by the state legislature. For instance, it is possible now for licensed dental hygienists to apply sealants in schools.
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.
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.