​Pediatric dentistry hosts ‘Give Families a Smile Day’

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​Pediatric dentistry hosts ‘Give Families a Smile Day’

Exams and cleanings were provided for children and parents who have difficulty obtaining dental care
Wendy Dore and Steve Steinberg

More than 50 children and 10 parents received free dental care at the University of Washington Center for Pediatric Dentistry on Feb. 27 in an event marking the end of Children’s Dental Health Month.
Patients at the event received treatment including X-rays, examinations, cleanings, fluoride and some limited restorative services, mostly fillings. The Center worked with local schools to identify  families who had only Medicaid coverage or none at all, or families with parents who could not come to the clinic during regular weekday hours.

girl at pediatric dental clinic
UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry
At the UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry, a girl gets ready for an exam and cleaning.
girl at UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry

“We know that some of the significant barriers for at-risk children getting to a dentist are schedule, the ability of parents or guardians to take time off work during the week, the ability to bring all children in the family at one time, and transportation,” said Dr. Rebecca Slayton, outgoing director of the Center. Slayton concluded her term as director and chair of the UW Department of Pediatric Dentistry on Feb. 29, but remains on faculty.
Those providing the care included UW dental students and graduate residents, faculty members, dental assistants and other staff, and volunteers. The costs of the event were underwritten by Johnson & Johnson and Amerigroup, a major health insurance company and service provider. Further support came from Medical Teams International, which furnished a mobile dental van. Slayton also expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the staff at Leschi Elementary School in Seattle.
The Center, which opened in 2010 in the Washington Dental Service Building at Seattle’s Magnuson State Park, is part of the UW School of Dentistry and is a collaborative venture with Seattle Children’s hospital. It provides treatment across the spectrum of oral health needs, including services for children with special needs such as autism and Down syndrome, and those with medically complex conditions.

A key part of the Center’s mission is to provide treatment for children on Medicaid, which is known as Apple Health in Washington state, and others who have difficulty accessing care. The Center also conducts research and seeks to identify best practices in children’s oral health care.