MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Minnesota dentists will be providing free dental care services for children in need, during the Minnesota Dental Association’s 11th annual Give Kids a Smile event on February 1st and 2nd, 2013. This unique charitable dentistry event is expected to provide care to 6,000 children at over 200 dental clinics throughout the state.

The Minnesota Dental Association is sponsoring the 11th consecutive year of Give Kids a Smile as part of the national Children’s Dental Health Month in February.

“We encourage all parents to ensure their children have smiles for life through good oral health habits and regular visits to the dentist,” said Dr. Michael Flynn, president of the Minnesota Dental Association and a practicing dentist in Lewiston, Minnesota. “However, we recognize that some families may face barriers to obtaining care, so we are pleased to provide this free program to those children.”

Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. People interested in scheduling an appointment can call United Way 211 (just dial 2-1-1), or the statewide toll-free number 1-800-543-7709. To see a list of clinics providing care go to www.mndental.org. Information on specific services provided will be outlined when an appointment is scheduled.

Since Give Kids a Smile began, Minnesota dentists have provided free care to nearly 50,000 young children and donated services valued at more than $15 million. Volunteers speaking multiple languages have been engaged to eliminate language barriers. School nurses actively partner to make sure families are aware of the program. The United Way’s 2-1-1 number has become an invaluable link to connect needy families with volunteering dentists.

But challenges remain. Dental disease remains more prevalent today than childhood asthma. Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease, affecting 50% of U.S.first graders. And Minnesota is ranked 39th nationally in dental fee reimbursements for treating children on government health programs, with dentists only paid 35% of their actual fee for providing the care, compared to 60% nationally.

For more facts on the Minnesota Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile, go to mndental.org or find us on Facebook.

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. You can learn more at www.mndental.org.