Children's Dental Health Month <br> Dental clinic provides free treatment for kids

  • Published
  • By Steve Pivnick
  • 81st Medical Group Public Affairs
Volunteers from the 81st Dental Squadron Dental Clinic staff saw 15 young patients during their Feb. 4 "Give Kids A Smile" Day.

Almost 40 dental squadron members, including staff dentists, dental residents and enlisted and civilian dental technicians, volunteered to assist with the program, the first of several events on base offered as part of National Children's Dental Health Month.

"Give Kids A Smile" provides uninsured children ages 3-12 years from active-duty and retired military families, not enrolled in the Tricare Dental Program (United Concordia), free dental services ranging from screenings to fillings as part of the national event.

Pediatric dentist Maj. (Dr.) Stephen Gasparovich explained that the event is intended to provide free, desperately-needed dental services. Last year, more than 46,000 team members nationwide participated in the American Dental Associaton program.

"We identified an operating room case for a child in pain with severe early childhood caries," said Dr. Gasparovich, who spearheaded the event.

"Temporary fillings were placed for 'caries control' until the child can be seen for surgery. We also identified a child with an unusual bone formation in the lower jaw and she was referred to oral surgery. The follow-up treatment that we will be able to provide to each child will be worth several thousand dollars."

"Values for the perceived costs of care ranged from $50 to $500," he continued. "The total for an exam, including bitewings and panoramic image, cleaning, fluoride and oral hygiene instructions is approximately $350. Four dental sealants on first permanent molars is an additional $200. Most parents estimated the value for the day's visit to be $400. One child received $2,958 dollars in treatment due to the cost of a ConeBeam CT and 3-D imaging that was done by Dr. (Maj.) Jeffrey Ford, an orthodontist."

The team conducted a total of 95 procedures valued at more than $7,300. Dr. Gasparovich noted the goals for "Give Kids A Smile" Day are to raise awareness of untreated dental disease, build local and public partnerships to increase access to oral health care and identify parents' financial perceptions of dental treatment.

To encourage more participation next year, the clinic hopes to schedule the program for one of the days off school during Mardi Gras week.