More than 550 children in 13 states and the District of Columbia received needed dental care at no cost during Kool Smiles’ Fourth Annual Sharing Smiles Day on May 20. Volunteer doctors and staff from 49 Kool Smiles offices participated in the free day of dental care for uninsured and underinsured children.
“While Kool Smiles is proud to accept many forms of insurance, including Medicaid, TRICARE, and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage, we also recognize that too many children do not have access to dental care because they have inadequate insurance or face gaps in coverage,” said Brad Bryan, DMD, managing dental director at Kool Smiles.
“Sharing Smiles Day is one way Kool Smiles is working to close this coverage gap and help all kids get the preventive dental care and treatments they need to have happy, healthy smiles,” Bryan said.
Children who lack dental insurance are twice as likely to experience toothaches as their peers with dental coverage, report the Children’s Dental Health Project and Benevis Foundation. Tooth decay remains the leading chronic disease among children and is one of the greatest unmet health needs in the United States, according to a 2016 Pew Charitable Trusts report.
“This is probably one of my favorite days of the year,” said Kool Smiles regional business partner Patrick Brown. “Sharing Smiles Day really shows what our company is all about—serving the underserved and providing quality dental care.”
Free dental treatments included dental exams, emergency care, extractions, fillings, and sealants. Treatments were provided on a first-come, first-served basis and determined by the dentists after consultation with each child’s parent.
More than 2,100 children have been served since Sharing Smiles Day was launched in 2015. In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the Kool Smiles team helped 20 families this year, including a family of five who recently fell on hard times when the father was laid off from his job.
“It made a big deal for us,” said Jason Robbins. “We can have all five of our kids get their teeth cleaned.”