Healthier teeth are in store for Hawaii’s keiki, thanks to a volunteer effort put on by Hawaii Dental Association’s Young Dentist Group.
Give Kids A Smile, a national campaign, hosts its first event in Hawaii Feb. 21 at Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Makahiki Dental Clinic, located at 935 Makahiki Way in the McCully area.
“Hawaii has one of the highest cavity rates in the nation,” explains group president Dr. Scott Morita, who spearheads the effort with HDA president Dr. Lynn Fujimoto.
According to Morita, there are two issues at play: access to care and utilization of care.
“Dental health is so important,” says Morita, who earned his degree at USC. “Instead of being proactive, most people are reactive and they wait for cavities and infection, which becomes much more costly later on.
“It affects these children’s eating habits and social habits.”
He goes on to explain that finding a dental home can be difficult for many families.
“You can tell them they have (teeth) issues, but where do they go?” he poses.
Prior to the event, Young Dentist Group will head to six public elementary schools — Ala Wai, Lunalilo, Noelani, Palolo, Kuhio and Waikiki — to make presentations on dental education.
“We’ll be seeing about 700 children,” says Morita, who is the younger half of the father-son team Morita Orthodontics.
At Give Kids A Smile, keiki and their families can expect free dental services, such as screenings, cleanings and fluoride treatment, which is key to fighting cavities in young children whose teeth are still developing. (Each patient age 18 and younger must be accompanied by an adult for treatment.)
Give Kids A Smile day isn’t just about teeth, however. There also will be games and activities, educational opportunities and prize giveaways. Also, each child will leave with something special.
“We want the whole experience to be a fun experience,” Morita adds. “Kids have a negative connotation with the dentist.”
This is the event’s first year in Hawaii, and Morita hopes to expand the effort to future years. Visit givekidsasmilehawaii.org for more details.