Kenzlie Maloney used to get very nervous about going to the dentist, but a positive experience changed the 7-year-old Rathdrum girl’s outlook on having her teeth cleaned and polished.
Last year, she attended “Give Kids a Smile,” a program that delivers free dental exams and cleanings to children who don’t have dental insurance.
“She didn’t have any problems or cavities,” said her mother, Sydney Maloney. “Kaylin loved it. We’re already signed up this year and I think she’s really looking forward to it.”
For those who don’t have dental insurance, the “Give the Kids a Smile” program is designed to provide preventive care, along with education about maintaining good oral health. This includes teaching kids how to brush and floss their teeth daily, said Heritage Health’s Dr. Rachel Davidson.
“Kids need more intervention than parents realize,” said Davidson. “Even a kid who is 4,5,6 years old and who seems independent still needs a high level of involvement. They need brushing and flossing modeled at home, making it a healthy habit for the entire family.”
Davidson suggests creating a set time for everyone in the family to brush and floss their teeth.
“Until a kid can tie their own shoes, they really can’t brush their own teeth effectively,” said Davidson. “A high level of parental involvement goes a long way.”
Give Kids a Smile was launched nationally by the American Dental Association in 2003 and since then, more than 5.5 million underserved children across the country have received free oral health services.
Heritage Health is offering free exams and cleanings to children (11 and under) who don’t have dental insurance on Friday, Feb. 1, at the Coeur d’Alene Clinic. In addition, to the exam and cleaning, kids can receive fluoride and sealants for free if applicable.
Maloney will be bringing her Kenzlie and other her 9-year daughter, Kaylin to the event.
“The kids had a great time last year,” said Maloney. “The dentist and staff were amazing. They made my kids really comfortable.”
Sydney Maloney isn’t alone in not having dental insurance. An estimated 50 percent of Idahoans go without dental insurance, including children.
“It’s a really fun event,” said Stephanie Washburn, a dental hygienist with Heritage Health. “We have prizes for the kids. Typically, we can polish the plaque right off their teeth. We also give them x-rays so that the parents know if there is an issue that needs to be dealt with.”
To schedule an appointment call (208) 292-0697.
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Story written by Marc Stewart, Heritage Health