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

Eastern Florida Hosts Free Children’s Dental Health Fair

February 5, 2015 - The Dental Assisting and Hygiene programs at Eastern Florida State College are teaming up with local dental professionals to host the 6th Annual “Happy Smiles Happy Kids” free dental health fair for children under 18.

The event will be Friday, February 27 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Health Sciences Institute Dental Clinic, Bldg. 20, Room 111 on Eastern Florida’s Cocoa Campus, 1519 Clearlake Road, off Rosetine Street and adjacent to the YMCA building.

Appointments are not necessary. Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

The fair will also include activities such as face painting and free dental education. All children under the age of 18 will receive a free packet that includes a T-shirt, toothbrush and dental floss.

Participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive services. Free services will include dental screening, fluoride varnish, preventative education and other limited dental care that may be prescribed by the clinic dentist, including sealants, X-rays, teeth cleaning and emergency palliative care.

“We’re proud to host the event again and have the opportunity to make a difference in the health of local children,” said college President Dr. Jim Richey. “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 project has provided care to more than 500 children the past five years. It is made possible annually thanks to the generosity of local community leaders, Guy and Delores Spearman. They also funded the Brevard Health Alliance last year so any children not treated at the college could be seen by a dentist.

Last year’s event was also possible because of the dedication of the Eastern Florida faculty, staff, students and the efforts of 50 dental professionals who volunteered for the day-long work.

Despite programs at the Brevard Health Alliance, Space Coast Volunteers for Medicine and the Brevard Health Department, the need for low-cost dental health care continues to grow, especially among children and youth in Brevard County.

In the most recent study of its kind, a 2011 report entitled Making Coverage Matter by the Pew Center on the States that examined dental policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Florida showed only modest improvement, moving from a ranking of “F” to a “D” in their 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’s now 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. 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.

Those interested in participating in the dental fair as a volunteer or as a participant should call (321) 433-7570. To access The PEW report, visit online at www.pewcenteronthestates.org.