Every year, the Associates Council of The Children’s Aid Society identifies an initiative that defines how it uses its time, talents, and resources. This year, the council is supporting dental services— a core component of health services provided at Children’s Aid community clinics and school-based health centers.
The prevalence of tooth decay (known as dental caries disease) in primary teeth is high. Many children continue to suffer unnecessarily from untreated tooth decay, and minority and children living in low-income neighborhoods tend to be among those at highest risk. Nationally, 28 percent of children ages 2-5 have already experienced tooth decay. Additional research shows that disparities are apparent with respect to poverty, race, and ethnicity. About 94 percent of Medicaid-eligible children in New York under three, and 62 percent of those between 3-5 years, did not receive any dental care during 2009.
In addition to causing needless pain and suffering, tooth decay can cause eating difficulties, altered speech, loss of tooth structure or tooth loss, unsightly appearance and poor self-esteem, and much more. According to the Surgeon General, children with oral disease miss more than 51 million hours of school each year.
Children’s Aid provided dental services to 2,664 patients through 6,003 dental visits in 2015 and is one of the few providers that bring dental care to children where they are: schools. Dental services are provided at just 18 of the 145 school-based health centers (SBHCs) in NYC. Moving onto 2016, Children’s Aid will be partnering with Healthplex to bring no-touch dental screenings to children in more than 30 schools affiliated with Children’s Aid. These effective treatments allow dental professionals to monitor oral health for children without the anxiety that can occur for children visiting the dentist. Children’s Aid believes that more than 10,000 children could be screened and set on a path to better dental health.
Despite its importance to physical health, socioeconomic outcomes, and basic self-confidence, dental services remain significantly underfunded. With that understanding of its profound effect on youth, the Associates Council is proud to raise funds to complement dental service programming; we’re excited to donate, volunteer, and advocate for this important cause. Last month, we visited the Dunlevy Millbank Community Center to meet with Children’s Aid dental professionals, community center staff, and students to shoot a short film on their experiences at the dentist and why they love to smile bright. Be sure to check out our social media platforms below for previews of our short that will premiere at our Sixth Annual Spring Fundraiser, “Smile Brighter” on Thursday, April 14, at 7:00 p.m. at the Manhattan Penthouse on Fifth Avenue.
Tickets are now available to attend this year’s Spring Fundraiser located at https://www.picatic.com/smilebrightercas. All net proceeds will impact direct services for children and youth at Children’s Aid affiliated schools and SBHCs. We look forward to seeing your smile there! #smilebrightercas