IDAHO — February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and to mark the occasion, a national program is returning with COVID-19 safety protocols to help uninsured kids receive care.
Give Kids a Smile is sponsored by the American Dental Association and run locally by the Idaho State Dental Association (ISDA). Last year, Idaho dentists served 974 children in February alone through Give Kids a Smile.
"Our purpose is to make sure we can get free dental care to children who are uninsured and are in high need," says Dr. Kim Keller, a dentist with Nampa Smiles.
Normally, providers would gather in one place to serve children in need, but because of the pandemic, parents and guardians will need to sign up their child for care at individual dental offices throughout the state.
"What we encourage them to do is get ahold of us through calling the Idaho CareLine at 211 or they can go to theISDA.org and search for Give Kids a Smile," Dr. Keller explains.
The ISDA is also reaching out to eligible children through their schools, after-school programs, and social media. Some families may get an email from their child's teacher or school administration.
Some offices may be planning a special day for Give Kids a Smile appointments, but the care will be available throughout the month of February.
"We're going to, first of all, do an exam. If we can do things like sealants on that day or even maybe some fillings if they need to be done. Certainly a cleaning and a discussion with the parents about what the needs are," says Dr. Keller. "When the dental office can do it, they'll do as much as they can. They may need to refer the child back another day, but in any case, we want to make sure we try to get everything done for that child when they come to see us."
Sign-ups are open now for appointments. The deadline is February 15. The easiest way to do so is by calling 211 or clicking here.