INDIANAPOLIS — With an aim to curb the rates of untreated tooth decay in children, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is joining with partners to provide free oral health care and education to children across Indiana this February as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month.
The program, Hoosiers: Give Kids a Smile, is a collaborative effort between IDOH and the Indiana Dental Association, dental care providers, pediatricians, local health departments, Indiana schools and libraries, the Indiana University School of Dentistry, and others. Participating sites will offer a variety of services, ranging from oral health education and free dental screenings, as well as preventive and restorative services for children not covered by insurance, at events taking place in local clinics, schools, and libraries.
“The oral health of children is a serious public health issue, and tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the United States,” said Nelly Chawla, director of the IDOH Division of Oral Health. “Partnerships in programs like Give Kids a Smile are critical to ensure Hoosier families get the oral health care information and resources they need to keep children’s smiles healthy.”
An interactive map of local events and more information about child oral health can be found by visiting https://on.in.gov/GiveKidsaSmileIN.
Key program events include:
- 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 18, Indianapolis Public Library – Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St., Indianapolis, free dental screenings in a mobile unit located near library main entrance, and Storytime Smiles with America’s ToothFairy. Free dental kits will include toothbrushes, activity booklets, superhero capes and masks, and more. Similar events will be held at local libraries across the state. Storytime Smiles is made possible through a grant from the Delta Dental Foundation.
- 9 a.m. – noon and 1-5 p.m. EST Tuesday, Feb. 21, Indiana University School of Dentistry, 1121 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, will provide free dental screenings and kits, X-rays, and preventive care in the Pediatric Predoctoral Clinic on the second floor.
Untreated tooth decay affects one in five Indiana children, with four in 10 having tooth decay by the time they enter kindergarten, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While good oral health is a significant part of overall health and well-being, half of Hoosiers live in an area with a dental health provider shortage.
Visit the Indiana Department of Health at http://www.health.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.