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Dentists throughout Ohio will team up this February in an effort to help underserved youngsters in their communities obtain proper dental care.
The program called Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) has been carried out for seven consecutive years across the U.S.
In Ohio alone, more than 2,000 dentists and volunteers will provide free screenings, exams, cleanings, preventive services, restorative care and oral surgery to children on February 5.
President of the Ohio Dental Association, Dr Steve Simpson, said, "We cannot stress enough the message that good oral health is an integral part of good overall health."
He added that the $6.1 million raised over the years in free dental services to underserved children through GKAS represents a "significant amount of volunteerism and an equally significant indicator of need."
According to a 2000 report from the surgeon general, about one-third of all U.S. children do not have dental insurance, making them 2.5 times less likely than their insured peers to receive adequate dental care.
In the eight years since its establishment, the GKAS program has treated about 460,000 children annually, though some health officials warn that free clinics often deny patients suitable avenues for follow-up care.
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