WHAT: Approximately 117,000 Oregon children do not have health insurance, according to a recent Oregon Health & Science University study conducted for the Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research, and even children who do have health insurance often don't have dental coverage. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) reports that lack of dental coverage is a strong predictor of lack of dental care.
To highlight the problem of uninsured children for decision-makers, including Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski who is scheduled for a one-hour visit, OHSU School of Dentistry will provide free dental care for 220 children on national Give Kids a Smile Day. All of the children have been identified by their schools' nurses as having acute dental needs and will be transported from their Portland-area elementary schools to the OHSU School of Dentistry for treatment. Thirty OHSU and community dentists, as well as 200 dental students will care for the children.
"The kinds of oral health problems we see on Give Kids a Smile day are the tip of the iceberg in terms of Oregon children's dental needs," said Prashant Gagneja, D.D.S., M.S., head of the pediatric dentistry department at OHSU. "Though dental coverage has not been a top priority for decision-makers, ask the child who can't sleep because of a toothache how important it is to have regular oral care."
Give Kids a Smile Day is sponsored by the American Dental Association, Crest toothpaste (Procter & Gamble), dental supply and design company Sullivan-Schein, and the Multnomah Dental Society. In the Portland-area, Kaiser Permanente, the Multnomah County health clinics, and numerous dentists in private practice also will be observing national Give Kids a Smile Day, which traditionally is held in February during National Children's Dental Health month.
For more than a century, OHSU has been a primary source of health care for low-income and uninsured individuals in Oregon. Visit www.ohsu.edu/underserved for more information.
WHEN: Friday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
WHERE: OHSU School of Dentistry, 611 S.W. Campus Drive, Portland. Media attending the event should call ahead to make arrangements.