A weekend of fun at the dentist (Feb. 6-7)

February 2, 2009

<strong> I’ve heard anecdotally from friends that this economic downturn has had a big effect on hair and nail salons and other services that we don’t really need to spend on, or at least not as often as we once did.  Unfortunately, because about a third of Americans don’t have dental insurance, routine cleanings and checkups might get lumped into that category of aesthetic services one can do without.  Because very young children are already seen too seldom, according to some dentists I’ve been speaking with recently, and because the incidence of cavities is actually rising in the 3-to-6 age group, it’s important to find a free dental clinic if you can’t pay for routine care.

This weekend’s Give Kids a Smile event at Saint Louis University is one such opportunity. On Friday and Saturday (Feb. 6 and 7), dentists will be available to treat around 650 kids in a festive atmosphere — the schedule includes stages with jugglers, DJs, a fitness challenge and other acts; costumed characters like the tooth fairy, a dragon, an elephant and Sir Smilesalot; and balloon art, face painting and storytelling. There are details about how to schedule an appointment (everyone needs to register in advance) and a downloadable consent form at the GKAS homepage; you can also call 636.397.6453.

If you can’t make the clinic, you might still want to contact GKAS; it’s very active in bringing together dental providers and people who need care.  Other options are to contact a dental school (they often provide care at a discount) or even your local dentist, to explain the situation and ask about options.

If you’re simply looking for information about caring for your child’s teeth, a couple of good sites are the WebMD section on children’s and infants’ dental health and the British Dental Association’s animated timeline showing when teeth come in and fall out and come in again.

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