Community Engagement

Pacific and Local Dentists Team Up to Give Kids a Smile

by Randall Gee

Powercat poses with several Arthur A. Dugoni dental students in the Stockton dental clinic at University of the Pacific. Powercat and several students will join local dentists in giving free check-ups and cleanings to area school children.

by Patrick GiblinJan 3, 2012
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As the recession continues and unemployment rates remain extraordinarily high in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, more families are looking for ways to cut expenses and stretch the family budget. Unfortunately, for many families, this means skipping dental visits and putting off necessary dental care.

To help meet the dental health needs of the most vulnerable of our community, the children, San Joaquin Dental Society and the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry will team up to "Give Kids a Smile."

All children up to age 17 are invited for free check-ups and dental treatments from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 4 at University of the Pacific's Stockton dental clinic, 757 Brookside Road, just west of Pacific Avenue.

All children must be accompanied by an adult. Services include dental screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments, x-rays and emergency treatments. All services offered that day will be free. Games, clowns and face painting also will be available to keep children entertained while they wait. The event is first-come first-served

"Previous studies have shown that most of children's decay is found in those who come from the poorest homes.  This stems from several factors including diet, a perceived lack of value of 'baby teeth,' difficulty with transportation, and a lack of funds all of which keep children away from the dentist," said Dr. Noe Mora, a Stockton-area dentist. "Lately, though, we are seeing a decrease in children from all walks of life visiting their dentist regularly and we can only assume this is because of the impact the recession has had on family budgets."

According to a study issued in September by Oral Health American, Plackers Dental Flossers, and Oral Healthcare Can't Wait found that approximately 35 percent of all Americans who used to regularly visit their dentist have cut back on their trips to have their teeth checked (http://www.dental-tribune.com/articles/content/id/6133/scope/news/region/usa). A second study issued earlier in the year by the United States Surgeon General found that because of today's economic conditions, nearly one-third of Americans have no access to dental services.  The Surgeon General's Report can be found at http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/datastatistics/surgeongeneral/report/executivesummary.htm.

The day before the free check-ups, health experts from throughout the region will gather at Pacific to discuss the lack of regular dental treatment for the state's poorest children and ways in which communities and organizations can work together to address the problem. The meeting is scheduled from Feb. 3 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, visit www.SJDS.org online.