By Agnes CONSTANTE
Good hygiene is important for good health, and since February is Dental Health Month, Glendale Healthy Kids has been promoting proper care for kids’ teeth.
The private, non-profit organization collaborated with the American Dental Association on Give Kids A Smile Day, which is held on the first Friday of February each year. On this day, children who don’t have dental insurance and haven’t had an exam in the last year can receive a free exam, X-rays, and fluoride or saline treatment.
Dr. Steven Giovanisci, who owns a private practice in Montrose, has been volunteering for the Healthy Kids’ Give Kids A Smile Day for six years. He saw about 20 children on Feb. 3, and it’s a nice experience helping those in need when he can.
“It’s nice when we set aside a day (to do this). Kids are great and the parents are so appreciative and it’s very rewarding to do it,” he said.
Following cleanings and screenings, it is then determined whether or not kids require follow up care. Cost for care varies depending on a family’s income.
Camille Levee, CEO at Glendale Healthy Kids, said approximately 300 kids receive this free dental care each year.
In addition to the dental services the organization provides low-income families in February, it also runs an oral health education program to teach proper dental hygiene at daycares, preschools and first grade classrooms.
There are 25 core volunteers, which include dentists and community members, who show kids how to brush and floss the right way, and discuss proper nutrition so they can maintain healthy mouths.
“We get a lot of requests during the month of February particularly for those presentations because it’s Dental Month,” Levee said. “But we do (the presentations) all year long as well.”
Those who missed the free dental screenings have another opportunity to receive cleanings, exams, and X-rays on March 24 at the Pacific Community Center in Glendale. The organization will host a free kids health and fitness expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“If people have missed out in some way or don’t live in the Glendale Unified School District area, they’re still welcome to bring their kids to the March 24 event,” Levee said.
A small unit from the USC mobile dental clinic will also be at the expo to conduct free dental care procedures.
Glendale Healthy Kids is always looking for volunteers. Those interested in lending a hand or seeking more information can call (818) 548-7931.