Nearly 200 children from 14 communities across Nebraska will head to the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln on Feb. 1 to receive some much needed dental care.
Children's Dental Day gives underserved children from Nebraska communities access to dental care from cleanings and extractions to fillings and root canals.
After 12 years, nearly 5,000 children have received more than $2 million in care. This year children from Lincoln, Crete, Columbus, Madison, Norfolk, Stanton, Wayne, West Point, Wisner, Beamer, Lyons, Lexington, Hastings and Grand Island are expected to attend.
And for some of these children it is the first time they have had a chance to be seen by a dentist.
"It's estimated that about 25 percent of the children in the U.S. experience 80 percent of the decay," said John Reinhardt, D.D.S., dean of the UNMC College of Dentistry. "Those are the underserved children we are trying to help. Tooth decay can affect a child's ability to eat, to speak, to adapt socially because of an unattractive appearance, to pay attention in school and their overall quality of life."
All of the children participating in the event are identified and pre-screened in their communities by volunteers, including school nurses, members of faith-based organizations, Head Start, dentists and dental hygienists.
The event will have upper level dental and dental hygiene students working in the clinics, while many of the first-year students facilitate games with the children, including those that teach good snack choices, how soda pop affects their teeth, what decay looks like and how to brush and floss.
Lunch and healthy snacks will also be provided and each child will receive a goody bag of items, including a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, activity book and stickers to take home with them.
Students from the UNMC College of Nursing will also be on hand to provide well child checks.