Recently, Henry Schein Inc., the American Dental Association, and the Nassau County Dental Association hosted National Give Kids a Smile Day in Garden City. It was my first story and a wonderful way to start. As [budding] journalists we have the opportunity to sometimes bring often unspoken issues to light. I was shocked to learn that nearly one in four children, aged two to seven, have untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the National Institute of Health, 80% of tooth decay is found in 25% of children, mostly from low income families. Even for children enrolled in Medicaid, many do not receive dental services throughout the year.
With so many awful medical issues that can arise, and so many that cannot be prevented, poor dental health should not be one of them. A simple check-up once a year and proper daily dental care can help prevent so many problems. Hundreds of dental professionals, sponsors, and members of the dental community gathered to provide free oral health care to many young children across the county. I was struck by the number of children, in the county alone, who do not receive regular dental screenings. It was quite disheartening. But I was pleased to see the dental community come together to work for these children, and really do something hands on to help them.
I was unaware until attending the event that tooth decay affects children in the U.S. more than any other chronic infectious disease. However, unlike other unfortunate issues families can face, tooth decay can be prevented. While the issue at hand was quite serious, it was a pleasure to see so many smiling faces leave that day, dental community members and children alike. And it was my pleasure to help bring the issue to light on LI News Tonight.
– Elsa Gillis