Free dental screenings for those up to 18 years in age will be held Tuesday and through April in Sacramento as part of efforts to provide early dental health to more California kids.
The free screenings will check for any obvious signs of cavities or signs of tooth decay, said Danielle Cannarozzi, community outreach representative for Liberty Dental Plan, a Medi-Cal dental care provider and an event sponsor. Those screened will also receive a preventative coating of fluoride varnish to strengthen their tooth enamel, she said.
“We just want to help them get to dental care as quickly as possible,” Cannarozzi said.
All of the free dental events are held from 3 to 4:30 p.m., with Tuesday’s screening at Valley Hi Family Resource Center, 7000 Franklin Blvd., Suite 820.
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Other dates and locations are: Feb. 28, Meadowview Family Resource Center, 2251 Florin Road; March 1, at North Sacramento Family Resource Center, 1217 Del Paso Blvd. A special Saturday event will be held on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Valley Hi Family Resource Center.
One in every four elementary school-age children in California has tooth decay, according to the California Department of Health Care Services. Dental pain causes California children to miss 874,000 school days annually, according to the nonprofit Center for Oral Health.
The events, held as part of the American Dental Association’s national children’s dental health month, include the Center for Oral Health, several dental plans and Sacramento Covered, the nonprofit that helps consumers navigate their health care options.
In addition to dental screenings, families can get help to determine if they’re eligible for Medi-Cal coverage or an affordable health care plan through Covered California. Under Medi-Cal dental coverage, children up to age 20 receive two annual teeth cleanings, a full set of X-rays each year and preventative sealants or fillings.
The outreach efforts come as California tries to improve dental access for low-income familes. In a scathing Little Hoover Commission report last April, the state’s Denti-Cal program was accused of being so badly managed that thousands of children and adults are unable to find a dentist. It said 11 of California’s 58 counties have no Denti-Cal providers or no providers willing to accept new patients, and only about half of Denti-Cal-eligible children see a dentist annually.
Since then, the Denti-Cal program has become eligible for state and federal funds to improve access to dental care and help make more families aware of their dental health benefits.