The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation, in collaboration with Cook County Health & Hospitals System and Malcolm X College, provided a free day of dental care for 88 Illinois children age 5 and younger on Saturday, August 5, in Chicago. More than $8,500 worth of dental care was provided by 27 oral health professionals.
At the event, children received free preventive and diagnostic services like cleanings, exams, fluoride treatments, sealants and X-rays. Preventive education and referrals for additional dental care was provided. Each child also received an oral health kit with floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a dental care instructional sheet in English and Spanish.
The event is part of the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Dentist By 1 program, which educates caregivers about the benefits of having children visit the dentist by age 1, as well as trains dentists and oral health professionals to help expand access to care. Children in Illinois don’t see their family dentist on average until they are nearly 3 years old.1 Scheduling a dentist visit by age 1 allows the child and parent to establish a relationship with a dentist, which can help set the foundation for regular dental visits and oral health care habits.
“Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease and can affect a child as soon as teeth appear in the mouth,” said Lora Vitek, director of philanthropy & community relations for the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Tooth decay is preventable. In an effort to combat tooth decay, our Dentist By 1 program educates Illinois children and their caregivers about the importance of preventive care. This free day of dental care made an immediate impact for many Illinois children and their families, and we are hopeful the education provided lasts a lifetime and results in improved oral health.”
At this year’s event, 73 percent of the children treated had never been to the dentist before and 26 percent of the children showed signs of tooth decay. Vitek says the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation aims to change these statistics by continuing to expand its education efforts and raise the awareness of the importance of age 1 dental visits.
For more information about the Dentist By 1 program, visit dentistby1.com/Illinois.
1 2017 Delta Dental of Illinois Children’s Oral Health Survey.