This post was sponsored by Give Kids A Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

 

Your child’s smile is a powerful thing. It can lift you out of even the deepest funk, brighten up the entire room and make you feel like you’re the most spectacular and important person in the world. I know when I’m feeling miserable, one look at my son’s smiling face changes my entire mood.  I want to make sure that smile stays bright and healthy his entire life. A huge part of that is making sure he has access to quality dental care, which is harder than it sounds sometimes.

Here’s my problem: I don’t exactly have the best insurance. I’ll be honest here, I’m in the “low income” bracket. Things are slowly improving (although I did have a few setbacks last year), but up until very recently, I was the sole source of income for myself, my son and my mom. While Jake’s insurance does cover dental care, very few dentists in my area actually take it. Once you find one, it can take months to get an appointment. Jake has inherited my fear of the dentist, despite my best efforts to prevent it from happening. Finding a dentist that takes my insurance AND is good with kids hasn’t been the easiest feat. At one point, I had to drive him over 60 miles away to get the care that he needed, and that was back a the height of my financial crisis, when I could barely afford toilet paper let alone gas for multiple 120-mile round trip visits to a specialist.

This year, Jake was seen by a mobile dentist that came to his school.  They accept all insurances and even offer free dental care for kids without it. Even more important, to Jake anyway, they’re incredible with kids. They work with them all day, every day. Everything went so much more smoothly and Jake came away from the experience with a better understanding of what he needed to do to keep his smile healthy and clean. Since he was more comfortable with the dentist, he was able to better absorb the lessons and information. I’m really grateful to that mobile dentist not just because of the free and convenient dental care, but because of the quality of care my son received. That type of quality care is made possible by organizations like Give Kids A Smile.

Celebrate 15 Years of Keeping Kids Smiling with “Give Kids A Smile”

Give Kids A Smile, a volunteer organization dedicated to making sure that ALL kids from every income bracket have access to that same quality dental care that Jake received. They began as a tiny grassroots event for 400 St. Louis kids back in 2002 and grew to more than 1,300 events in all 50 states. Thanks to the dedication of the volunteers and the support of the American Dental Association, they managed to reach more than 5.5 million children who otherwise may have gone without dental care.

Give Kids A Smile Day, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Davie, Fla., February 5, 2016. Photo credit: ADA Foundation.

See, here’s the thing: even though Medicaid is more widely available and the Affordable Care Act made improvements in the coverage of children’s dental care, tooth decay still affects 42% of children aged 2 to 11 (80% of which are our nation’s poorest children). It’s the number one chronic infectious disease among kids in the U.S., including kids with Medicaid.  Thanks to more than half a million volunteers (including dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, techs, office staff and more) have given their time and service to making sure these kids have access not only to dental care but to the education they need to take better care of their teeth in between visits.

So many wonderful health care professionals and companies work together to make Give Kids A Smile a success. It really does make you feel good to know that all of these people are so passionate about giving back and giving our kids the healthiest smile possible. Join in the celebration and help give all kids a healthy smile, too! If you visit the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile page, you’ll find out how you can donate to the organization. Need help finding dental care for your child in your area? Just call the number on their website. Follow Give Kids A Smile on Facebook to keep up with their events and news.

Have your kids benefited from Give Kids A Smile? Share your stories in the comments!

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