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Free dental treatment for kids Friday

BRECKENRIDGE – Three local dentists will hold a “Give Kids a Smile Day” Friday, providing free examinations, X-rays, fluoride treatments, sealants and minor restorative treatments at no charge.Drs. Tim Nary, Curtis Slack and John Warner will provide the services to children Feb. 4. A fourth dentist, Dr. Jason Luchtefeld, will provide them on Feb. 15.This is the first time the dentists have participated in the nationwide event.The dentists visited Upper Blue, Frisco and Breckenridge elementary schools and screened the 6- to 8-year-old students for dental decay. They selected that group because many of those in that age group have had their 6-year molars come in and those are best protected by applying sealant, Warner said.As of Wednesday, his office had 25 children signed up to take advantage of the services, and has room for five to eight more. Nary’s office has eight students signed up and room for five more; Luchtefeld has nine signed up and room for 15 more.The dentists collectively issued 60 notices to parents, and hoped more opt to participate.”I’m going to write the American Dental Association (ADA) and have them rethink the date,” Warner said. “For a parent to take the day off, get their child out of school, come to our office, it might be too much of a hardship. Saturday might be better for more participation.”High Country kids’ teeth are looking better than they ever have.”Five, 10, 15 years ago, we used to see kids with open teeth; it’s improved dramatically,” Warner said. “We didn’t see too much of that. They’ve got pretty good overall dental health.”The American Dental Association (ADA) 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, 52 percent of 6- to 8-year-olds have tooth decay. Many children lack access to dental care, which is a critical component in achieving good oral health. The ADA founded Give Kids A Smile to raise public awareness of what the U.S. Surgeon General has called a “silent epidemic” of dental disease and to encourage parents, politicians and people who care about children to address this issue in their communities. Tooth decay is increasingly a disease of low- and modest-income children – children covered by Medicaid and CHIP. Analysis shows the amount of tooth decay in children is inversely related to income level. Children from families with annual incomes of $10,000 to $20,000 have 10 times more unmet dental needs than children whose families earn more than $50,000 per year.”We’ve got a pretty high dental IQ up here,” Warner said. “But with the cultural mix we’re seeing, there are people having difficulty accessing dental care. Dental insurance is not as commonplace as it was a few years ago. It’s a secondary benefit. There are a lot of people out there without access to dental care.”Participants must make an appointment. Drs. Warner and Slack can be reached at (970) 453-9615, Luchtefeld at (970) 668-1010 and Nary at (970) 453-4244.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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