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On March 19, as part of the Give Kids a Smile program, volunteer dentists and dental hygienists from around Hillsborough Country provided free dental care services to underprivileged children at the Suncoast Community Health Center in Ruskin, Florida.
Approximately 50 children under the age of 17 who were without dental insurance received an estimated $45,000 worth of complementary dental cleanings, fillings and other preventative services. In order to be eligible for the free care, families had to meet federal poverty guidelines, which meant a family of four needed an annual income of less than $44,100.
Even after providing much needed treatment to a number of local kids, the group of volunteer dental professionals identified the lack of access to care for low-income families.
"There's an incredible need, especially in pediatric care," said Dr Natalie Carr, a Florida dentist and the president of the state Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
"The most cost-effective dental care is prevention," added Dr Ervin Cerveny, a dentist with Suncoast Community Health. "But by the time we see many of these children, it's too late."
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