On Feb. 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. West Shore Dental Associates will offer a free dental day to children ages 4 to 14. Children must be new patients in order to have a free exam, teeth cleaning and necessary x-rays provided by West Shore Dental.
The free treatment is a part of a national program called Give Kids a Smile! (GKAS), sponsored by the American Dental Association. This is the 10th anniversary of the Give Kids a Smile! day, which is traditionally on the first Friday of every February. This year, there will be 16,000 free clinics around the country, which are expected to serve nearly 400,000 children.
Deborah Fuller, D.M.D., the public health dentist for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said the program is geared toward children from low-income families who otherwise may not be able to visit the dentist.
Tracy Brousseau, an administrative assistant from West Shore Dental Associates, said it is important for children as young as 4 to begin visiting the dentist twice a year for routine exams and teeth cleanings. In between these visits, children should brush twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed) and floss.
Brousseau encourages parents to keep children away from sticky fruit snacks that can get stuck between teeth and cause decay. She also cautioned parents about giving children a bottle to take to bed.
“Even if it’s filled with milk, not juice, the milk can sit on the teeth and cause decay,” said Brousseau. “I have seen kids who have to get all of their teeth taken out, just because the parents didn’t know.”
Brousseau said that the doctors from West Shore Dental Associates have participated in the Give Kids a Smile! program for years, but usually offer the free dental day at an office in Providence. This year, Dr. Robert Conte decided to offer the services from his office in Warwick to benefit local children.
Other locations for GKAS include Blackstone Valley Community Health Care, Inc. in Pawtucket; We Care for Kids Dental, Inc. in East Providence; and St. Joseph Hospital Pediatric Dental Center, Providence Community Health Center and Samuels Sinclair Dental Center/Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
To make an appointment for the Feb. 3 free dental day at West Shore Dental Associates, call 739-1399.