(Minneapolis, MN)  – –   Free dental care for up to 6,000 children in need will be available at more than 200 dental offices across the state on February 6th and 7th, 2015.   Minnesota dentists will be providing free dental care services for children in need, during the Minnesota Dental Association’s 13th annual Give Kids a Smile event.  More than 3,000 volunteers will work to coordinate this unique charitable dentistry event known as Give Kids a Smile.

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. A list of clinics providing care is available at www.mndental.org/gkas. 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 more than 60,000 young children and donated services valued at more than $15 million dollars.   Volunteers speaking multiple languages have been engaged at some locations 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 event, go to mndental.org/gkas 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.