Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, and can affect eating, speaking, self-esteem and learning. In extreme cases, toothaches can develop severe infections and put kids in the hospital. Lack of insurance, lack of transportation and other barriers keep many children in low-income communities from seeing a dentist on a regular basis.Kids miss an estimated 51 million hours of school each year due to dental problems.*
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Smiles Initiative serves low-income and homeless children and families living in urban communities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington, D.C.where mobile dental clinics travel in tandem with mobile medical clinics to schools, public housing, early education programs and homeless shelters to provide care directly to children in need. The mobile staffers also teach children about health, especially how to take care of their teeth.
The Idaho Children’s Health Fund project focuses exclusively on dental care, serving a population where 97% of the state has a shortage of dental providers.
The Healthy Kids, Health Smiles Initiative also includes a training program for Children’s Health Fund medical providers to improve oral health screening procedures and increase fluoride varnish application, an innovative way to increase access to preventive oral health for kids.
In 2012 we provided nearly 10,000 dental appointments.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Smiles is a partnership between Metlife Foundation and the Children’s Health Fund.