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Pediatric Dentists help underserved kids get dental care

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 6:28 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Every year local pediatric dentists take part in the “Give Kids a Smile” event. With COVID cancelling the big event, Hastings dentists wanted to make sure kids didn’t have to keep living with their tooth pain.

Pediatric Dental Specialists work closely with school nurses in Hastings and Grand Island to find kids who need dental care but may not be able to afford it. The Give Kids a Smile program is a free consultation with a dentist to see if any further treatment is needed.

What’s important to know is the mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body in terms of health and children miss countless hours of school every year due to dental pain and infection,” Dr. Jessica Meeske said.

They can be recommended to the Central Community College dental school or to the local health department for further treatment. The dentists working the event are passionate about helping keep kids healthy and in school. Many people end up in the emergency room for tooth pain and it will rack up an even bigger bill.

“For the needs that we identify today, those needs will be taken care of for no charge,” Dr. Meeske said. “But what’s more important is that we make sure every child has a dental home and we’re able to find a routine source of preventive dental care.”

Some of the kids seen Friday have never been in a dentist’s office. Volunteers were also on hand to talk to parents about if they qualify for medicaid and how they can get signed up.

“There’s probably a high incidence of folks who may or may not be aware of the importance of dental care,” said Rick Hearon, Regional Operations Manager for Managed Care for North America. “There may be language barriers, there’s certainly with the COVID outbreak right now, maybe there’s some apprehension about getting out.”

Over 40 kids were taken care of at the event and the providers hope they will feel a little better after getting the care they need. The event in Hastings was part of a national effort to get dental care to underserved children. Since the program started in 2003 it has served six million kids across the country.

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