North Carolina Dentists Treat Needy Children

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Nearly 2,500 dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and other volunteers across North Carolina are expected to take part in the sixth annual national "Give Kids a Smile!" day on February 6, 2009, in what promises to be among the largest events of its kind in the country.

Dentists and other dental professionals will volunteer their time at designated dental offices, dental clinics and community colleges across the state to treat low-income children for free. Children who receive care were prescreened by local organizations and selected on the basis of need.

In 2008, 15,669 needy children in North Carolina received more than $1.26 million in free dental care as part of the "Give Kids A Smile!" program. The American Dental Association has previously named the North Carolina program the best in the nation.

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"Give Kids a Smile!" is a nationwide dental education and awareness day, with free oral health care to as many children as possible during national "Children's Dental Health Month," sponsored by the American Dental Association and state dental societies.

In North Carolina, "Give Kids A Smile!" is sponsored by several organizations, including the N.C. Dental Society, N.C. Oral Health Section, N.C. Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, N.C. Dental Assistants Association, UNC School of Dentistry, N.C. Community Colleges, and local dental societies.

"Year-in and year-out, this is one of the most far-reaching programs of its type in the country," said Dr. Gavin Harrell, president of the North Carolina Dental Society.

"With hundreds of thousands of needy children in North Carolina with only limited access to regular oral care, 'Give Kids a Smile!' gives them hope and in many cases relief from terrible pain and suffering," he added.

Treatment will range from routine dental screening to education to full dental care, including fillings and extractions.

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