Uninsured children treated at local dental office Sunday – Tyler Morning Telegraph

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This year the volunteer dentists and staff at Kool Smiles were hopeful of increasing that number.

“While Kool Smiles is proud to provide quality, affordable dental care to families with various forms of insurance, including Medicaid, we also recognize there are many children in our community who have no insurance and whose families cannot afford regular trips to the dentist,” said Dr. Diane Earle, managing dental director at Kool Smiles.

“Children who do not have regular access to a dentist often have advanced dental decay and their treatment needs are significant,” Dr. Earle said. “We want to put a smile back on the faces of these children by getting them the dental care they need, but which their families cannot afford.”

According to the Texas Medical Association, there are more than 784,000 children who lack any kind of health insurance in Texas, including dental. Lack of insurance can be a burden on families with children, as a standard dentistry checkup can cost between $175 and $200. Without insurance to help cover the costs, that amount must be paid completely out of the parents’ pockets.

Tooth decay can also be difficult to recognize in small children, and without a regular visit to the dentist, small annoyances can evolve into big problems.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 42 percent of U.S. children have had cavities in their primary teeth, and children from low-income families are more likely to have dental issues than children who come from mid- to high-level income families.

A standard cavity left untreated can result in nerve damage at the base of the tooth, which can be very painful and may require a root canal, which can cost between $700 and $900 depending on which tooth is infected.

Trey Edwards, business leader at Kool Smiles, said regular visits to the dentist can greatly increase the overall dental health of the child, and catching small problems while they’re still small is very important.

“There is a definite difference in someone, whether they have insurance or not, who comes in for regular checkups versus someone who only comes if something is troubling them,” Edwards said.

While Edwards recommends everyone visit the dentist at least twice a year, he hopes the annual “Sharing Smiles Day” will make a difference in the lives of the children that come through their door.

“If we see a child that’s in pain or if something is bothering them and they leave happy, that makes us happy,” Edwards said.

“We’re all about smiles here.”

Uninsured children treated at local dental office Sunday – Tyler Morning Telegraph