Low-income children receive free dental care during Dental Home Day

August 14, 2020

The annual event will ensure underprivileged children in Tennessee are receiving oral care through the end of the year.

Underserved children from middle Tennessee will receive dental care thanks to a grant from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation (AAPDF), and sponsored by Sunstars America, Inc., makers of GUM® oral care products. The grant ensures that 100 children will receive a full year of free dental care.

The $25,000 grant was made to Interfaith Dental, a practice in Nashville and Murfreesboro that offers affordable dental care for working-poor families, the elderly, and others who slip through private insurance cracks. More than 50 of the participating children were welcomed to their new dental home last week during Dental Home Day at Interfaith Dental, an annual service event held in conjunction with the AAPD’s Annual Session. Sunstar has sponsored Dental Home Day since 2013, helping host clinics provide nearly 1,000 children with donated dental care. More than 25 volunteers, including area pediatric dentists, gave approximately 130 hours of service to make the event possible.

The event’s original date was canceled in May due to COVID-19, but the AAPDF and Interfaith Dental were determined to keep their commitment to the community. The event was rescheduled and new protocols were put in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved. To maintain social distancing protocols, Dental Home Day appointments were scheduled over the course of 4 days in Nashville. An additional Dental Home Day event is planned for Interfaith’s Murfreesboro clinic, where 20 children will receive treatment.

“The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every child, regardless of ability to pay, has access to consistent and compassionate dental care. Dental Home Day is an important part of this effort,” said AAPD President-Elect and Foundation Trustee Dr. Jeannie Beauchamp. “We are grateful to Interfaith Dental and Sunstar Americas who helped ensure we could bring this event to the children of Nashville – even if it was a few months later than originally planned.”

Each child participating in Dental Home Day received exams and treatments from Interfaith staff and oral health instruction from volunteer pediatric dentists. In addition, every child received a GUM home care kit to help them maintain good oral hygiene until their next visit. Ongoing treatment as part of Dental Home Day includes cleanings and any treatment and all follow-up visits throughout the year.

“With many households in Middle Tennessee living below the poverty line before COVID-19, there simply is no financial cushion for these families to manage the severe and unusual impacts that have occurred due to the tornado and the coronavirus. We anticipate and are responding to this increased need,” said Dr. Switzer-Nadasdi, CEO of Interfaith Dental. “Dental Home Day directly helps the families participating but its reach is greater because it spreads the word out about our services to others who may be in need.”

Children living in poverty are twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay, and their dental disease are more than twice as likely to go untreated compared to their more affluent peers, according to The State of Little Teeth: Second Edition (AAPD, 2019). A key reason low-income and minority children have more oral health problems than their peers is that they are less likely to see a dentist. Although the number of children seeing a dentist has increased over the past few years, visits continue to be influenced by financial standing, the AAPD says.