JPS Involved in Helping to Improve More than Half a Million Smiles


FORT WORTH, TX - Dentists, hygienists and staff at JPS Health Network's Dental Centers across Tarrant County will play a part in improving more than half a million smiles Friday, Feb. 3 as part of national Give Kids a Smile Day.

JPS is one of more than 39,000 providers participating in Give Kids A Smile, a nation-wide program founded in 2002 by the American Dental Association (ADA) to provide free care and raise awareness of the importance of access to dental care for children from low-income families.
"The children we'll be helping are experiencing the most excessive decay and are in the greatest need of attention," said Dr. Huda Al-Hafidh, JPS Dental Services director. "For a lot of these children, this is the only chance of help they have; there are 23 million children without dental insurance in this country."

Children already suffering from severe tooth decay were selected to receive the complimentary treatment during screenings performed at schools in the Fort Worth, HEB and Birdville Independent School Districts. In 2005, JPS provided free dental screenings to more than 28,000 students in about 44 schools. Because of the large volume of patients already scheduled, additional appointments and walk-ins will not be accepted on Feb. 3.

According to the ADA, the chronic infectious disease that causes cavities remains second only to the common cold in terms of prevalence in children. Only 3 out of 5 children have seen a dentist by the time they enter kindergarten, and by then more than half of 6 to 8-year-olds have experienced tooth decay. The U.S. Surgeon General has called dental disease a "silent epidemic."

Public health programs such as Medicaid and CHIP are meant to help underserved children, but are chronically under-funded. Most state Medicaid budgets devote two percent or less to dental services for all ages.