Volunteer dentists fill the gaps

Volunteer dentists are coming to the rescue of children most in need of preventative dental care.

The movement comes as a federal report noted that more children are falling through the cracks when it comes to dental care.

A recent example occurred in Peoria, IL, at an annual dental care event in conjunction with American Dental Association's Give the Kids a Smile program. About 40 childrend received screenings, cleanings and sealent as part of the event last month at the local Crittenton Centers.

“We do this every year,” said Sara Leverton, child development center parent educator at Crittenton, noting that a vast majority of children who received free dental care Friday were 18 months to 5 years old, though the care was available for children up to 13 years old.

“It’s just easier for our parents to be able to have this free service, especially for kids who are going into kindergarten,” she said. “It’s also convenient for parents who work, because they don’t have to take time off.”

The federal Health and Human Services inspector general’s office concluded government should push to improve access to care because too few dentists accept Medicaid patients and many parents have not learned the importance of proper dental care.