Contact: Anna Farneski
UMDNJ Offered Free Dental Care to More Than 1,000 Children Today
- February is National Children’s Dental Health Month -
NEWARK, NJ (2/3/06)—In recognition of National Children’s Dental Health Month, more than 1,000 children received free oral health care services at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey during today’s Fourth Annual Give Kids A Smile initiative.
The American Dental Association established the month-long celebration and the one-day Give Kids A Smile initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to ensure access to quality care for all children in America, regardless of their social or financial status, and to educate children about the lifelong benefits of proper oral hygiene and health care. More than 3,000 children were scheduled for treatment at more than 70 sites statewide.
In New Jersey, UMDNJ collaborated with the New Jersey Dental Association to offer free pediatric dental health care services including: dental examinations, teeth cleanings, extractions, and x-rays. Dentists, dental students, dental hygienists and dental assistants at UMDNJ were among more than 850 dental health professionals statewide who volunteered during this national effort.
“Today dental health professionals across the country focused on the epidemic of untreated oral disease among children because all children deserve quality dental health care. Here at New Jersey Dental School, w e have an opportunity to provide dental care to children who, in some cases, have never been to the dentist,” said Dr. Michael Conte, assistant dean of clinical affairs at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School.
Six of the sites that participated in the initiative were UMDNJ sites including the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, the UMDNJ-School of Health Related Professions, UMDNJ’s four satellite dental offices: University Dental Center at Galloway; University Dental Center at Haddon Heights; John H. Cronin Dental Center at Northfield; and University Dental Center at Somerdale Square.
According to the American Dental Association, today nearly 40,000 dental professionals and volunteers provided free educational preventive and restorative dental services to children from low-income families at approximately 2,000 locations nationwide.
Statistics show the chronic infectious disease that causes cavities remains second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence in children. Unlike a cold, tooth decay does not go away, it only gets worse. Pain from untreated dental disease can make it difficult for children to eat, sleep, pay attention in school, and it can affect their self-esteem.
The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist no later than their first birthday, yet only three out of five children have seen a dentist before kindergarten. By then, statistics from a Healthy People 2000 oral health update indicate 52 percent of children between six and eight have tooth decay.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.