Canton, Ohio: Mercy Dental Services will hold a Lifetime of Smiles children’s dental screening and education event on Thursday, October 23, 2014, from 4-6 pm at the JRC Learning Center in Northeast Canton. The event – which is free and open to the public – will feature free dental screenings for kids by Mercy dentists, dental “goody” bags, a visit from the Tooth Fairy and Marshall the Molar, and other oral health-related activities.
The JRC Learning Center is located at 2213 14th Street NE in Canton, less than a mile from Mercy at St. Paul Square – a medical home that offers primary care, dental care and behavioral health services.
Increasing Awareness of Children’s Dental Health
The screenings will kick-off Mercy’s Age 1 Dental campaign, a grant-funded initiative designed to increase awareness in the community and among medical providers about the importance of dental care to the overall wellness of young children. Funding support for Age 1 Dental has been provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, Delta Dental of Ohio and the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio.
Thomas Paumier, DDS, Ohio Dental Association president, Mercy Foundation board member and long-time supporter of Mercy Dental Services, believes parents should think of an age 1 dental exam as an important well-baby checkup.
“Good oral health is a critical part of a baby’s overall growth and development,” he says. “A simple dental exam at age 1, which can be performed by a dentist or a pediatrician, is the perfect time to check for early signs of decay. Also, it’s a great opportunity to educate parents about caring for baby teeth, answer their questions and initiate a relationship that will hopefully lead to positive oral-health habits and regular checkups for the whole family.”
The Mercy Age 1 Dental program will also focus on dental care during pregnancy and on protecting baby teeth before and after they become visible. All mothers who give birth at Mercy will receive an educational take-home packet on oral health for infants, toddlers and preschoolers; information on the age 1 dental exam; and follow-up materials at six months and 12 months after discharge.
Dental Health: Ohio’s Top Unmet Health Need for Children
According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), dental care is the state’s number one unmet health care need for children and low-income adults. In its 2011 report, Oral Health Isn’t Optional, the ODH reports that:
- 51 percent of Ohio children have tooth decay by third grade
- 19 percent of Ohio children don’t have dental insurance
- Almost 340,000 Ohio children have never been to a dentist
Recent community health needs assessments by Mercy Medical Center and the Stark County Health Department both indicate that dental care is among Stark County’s top six health needs. In response to this need, Mercy opened its hospital-based dental center in 2007 and recently unveiled Ohio’s first dental triage suite in an emergency department.
“Providing dental care is very much in keeping with our long-standing mission of quality, compassionate, accessible and affordable care for all, regardless of ability to pay,” says Thomas Cecconi, president and CEO of Mercy. “The Age 1 Dental program complements our community outreach efforts in this area and is another step toward our goal of improved oral health for patients and their families.”
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