Give Kids a Smile
The Venice toddler was one of about 200 young patients who took advantage of free check-ups and cleanings at The Children's Dental Center of Greater Los Angeles on Feb. 5. The event was part of National Children's Oral Health Month and the American Dental Association's Give Kids a Smile program.
The First 5 LA grantee and its partners at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Pediatric Dentistry spent the day examining the small mouths at the clinic's Smile Store, Shannon Kelly Toothfairy College and in a mobile oral health trailer in Inglewood. They used puppets, puzzles and other toys to teach children and their parents about proper dental hygiene.
The Children's Dental Center received a $300,000 grant from First 5 LA that allowed it to increase the number of children 0-5 they treat, according to Dr. Steven McKane, the center's chief program officer. The Center, he said, is based on the "dental home" model where patients receive education and care in an inviting setting. "It's more than just a drill and fill place," McKane added.
Last year, more than 24,000 children received screenings at the Center, none of them paying more than $45, McKane said. No one pays more than they can afford because low-income families should not have to choose between oral health care and putting dinner on the table, he added. "You just can't beat that - and it's high-quality care equivalent to that of a private practice," McKane said.
The free event provides care for many kids who didn't know they had tooth decay problems and establishes, for many of them, a relationship that McKane said he hopes will last.
California Assemblyman Steven Bradford (DInglewood) stopped by the clinic during the event. "This is a fine example of where you have a one-stop-shop in a community where they not only receive education, but (are) provided with care and preventive care," Bradford said.
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