MINNEAPOLIS, MN —  Minnesota dentists are asking for the public’s help in locating children in need of free dental care.  Dentists have created a statewide network of volunteer professionals who will provide free dental care services for up to 5,000 children on February 5th and 6th, 2016.   Dentists at over 150 dental offices and clinics will be providing free dental care during the Minnesota Dental Association’s 14th annual Give Kids a Smile event.  Nearly 2,500 volunteers are donating their time for this unique, charitable event.

“Everyone probably knows a family or child that could benefit from a dental visit, but for a variety of reasons the family has not been able to make it happen,” said Minnesota Dental Association President Dr. Peter Cannon, a family dentist practicing in St. Paul.  “We ask you to reach out to them and help them make an appointment.  Together, we can get these children the care they need.”

Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.  Scheduling is easy.  People interested in scheduling an appointment can find a list of clinics with open appointments at mndental.org/gkas or call United Way 211 (just dial 2-1-1).

Teeth cleanings, fillings, sealants and exams will be provided. Specific services provided at each location will be outlined when an appointment is scheduled. Volunteers speaking multiple languages have been engaged at some locations to eliminate language barriers.

Since Give Kids a Smile began, Minnesota dentists have provided free care to more than 65,000 young children and donated services valued at more than $16 million.   But challenges remain.  Dental disease remains more prevalent today than childhood asthma.  Nearly one in four children aged two to 11 years old has untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many children enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental services throughout the year, with the situation made worse by Minnesota’s lowest-in-the-nation ranking for government program dental fee reimbursements. Dentists in Minnesota are only paid 27% of private dental plan charges, compared to 49% nationally.

More information about the Minnesota Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile event can be found at mndental.org/gkas or 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.