NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Hundreds of children on Long Island were given something to smile about Friday.
Seventy-five dentists came together at the Cradle of Aviation for “Give Kids a Smile Day” to provide free check-ups to 1,500 students, ages 4 to 7, from low-income families in Freeport, Westbury, Hempstead, Uniondale and Roosevelt.
Many children enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental service throughout the year and the lack of pediatric and youth dental care is at crisis level on Long Island, officials said.
“I went to the dentist before but then my dad forgot to take me,” a 5-year-old boy from Marshall School in Hempstead told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
A kindergartner from Smith Street Elementary School in Uniondale told Rivera a dentist found five cavities in her teeth.
Studies show that tooth decay is five times more prevalent than asthma and seven times more prevalent than hay fever in children.
The National Institutes of Health reports that 80 percent of tooth decay is found in just 25 percent of children, primarily from low-income families.
According to the CDC nearly 1 in 4 children, aged 2 to 11 years, has untreated cavities in their baby teeth.
Dr. Joseph Brofsky, an official with the Nassau County Dental Association and chairman of the Give Kids a Smile event, said the children are getting free dental check-ups, fluoride treatments, goodie bags filled with toothbrushes and toothpaste, and education on how to brush take proper care of their teeth.
Melville-based Henry Schein Inc. along with its partners are providing over $1 million in dental product donations to help make the program possible.