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Give Kids a Smile event in Mesa

More than 400 uninsured children will receive free dental care in Mesa tomorrow. (Special to MyNewsMesa.com)

More than 400 uninsured children will receive free dental care tomorrow, Feb. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH), 5855 E. Still Circle in Mesa.

Prescreened children ages 6-12 from the Mesa Public School District, Apache Junction Unified School District and local community organizations will receive fillings, extractions, and even “baby teeth” root canals at this annual event. Care will be provided at no charge by ATSU-ASDOH’s dental students, faculty and community volunteer dentists.

The program is part of Give Kids a Smile, created by the American Dental Association to reduce school absenteeism by eliminating oral pain. The Arizona Dental Foundation (ADF) coordinates Give Kids a Smile charitable services for more than 1,000 children statewide every year. ADF provides an average of $300 in free dental treatment for each child at an operational cost of only $30 each – a true value in responding to dental disease in children without access to care.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services-Office of Oral Health:

  • More than 60 percent of children have untreated tooth decay.
  • Nearly 30 percent of Arizona’s children have urgent untreated tooth decay (urgent defined as swelling, pain, infection).
  • School-aged children are more likely to have tooth decay than asthma, hay fever or chronic bronchitis.

This event is designed with a carnival atmosphere, so children have fun going to the dentist to reinforce healthy habits. Participants will also receive complimentary eye exams from supporter United Concordia Corporation’s Visionworks partner. Any child experiencing difficulty with a vision test will receive a voucher for a free pair of glasses. A.T. Still University’s physical therapy program uses a real skeleton to teach children the proper way to wear a backpack. Give Kids a Smile activities throughout the state are supported by the SmartPractice SmartScramble and generous corporate and individual donors.

More than $5.5 million in free dental services have been provided to over 16,500 children from Title I schools in the last 15 years.

Editor’s note: All spots are full and registration is now closed for this event.

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