Something To Smile About: Free Dental Care For Minnesota Kids

By KBJR News 1

February 5, 2011 Updated Feb 5, 2011 at 9:57 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- Thousand of low–income children across Minnesota were given something a little extra to smile about today.

Around 3,000 volunteer dental professionals cleaned the teeth of kids who wouldn't otherwise be able get dental care.

LeAnn Wallace tells us how it works.

Justyce...a 4th grader at Lincoln Piedmont Elementary School...was one of the thousands of Minnesota children who got their teeth cleaned for free Friday...as part of "Give Kids a Smile Day."

"It was kind of ticklish but it was fun."

Because many kids like Justyce struggle to get basic dental care, a program called "Smiles Across Minnesota" is there to help.

"This is a day when the dental community gives back and so a lot of dental offices are participating by offering free care across the community to children," said Sarah Wovcha, Executive Director of Children's Dental Services.

Sponsored by Delta Dental, the United Way and Children's Dental Services, the program provides free yearly teeth cleaning for kids whose families can't afford it.

"It was great!"

Kids were also given a free tooth brush, some tooth paste, and dental floss.

Some of the kids they see don't even own a toothbrush.

The tooth fairy also made a special visit to Lincoln Piedmont...
The kids were also taught basic oral hygiene tips.

"You should clean them twice a day...morning and night," said Justyce.

"It's incredibly important. Dental disease is the most common chronic childhood illness. It's more common than asthma, diabetes, childhood obesity, and it leads to lifelong health problems." said Wovcha.

While some communities are only able to help kids for free one day a year...Children's Dental Services in Duluth is able to give kids a smile...every day.

Smiles Across Minnesota doesn't require insurance, or proof of low–income.