"Give Kids a Smile" Today | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

"Give Kids a Smile" Today

[verbatim from the Jackson Medical Mall] Some Jackson students are going to see the dentist for the very first time, thanks to the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) School of Dentistry. Students from Galloway and Johnson Elementary Schools are gearing up for "Give Kids A Smile Day" on Friday, February 13, 2009 starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center.

According to a survey from Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 4 children, aged 2 to 11 years old, have untreated cavities in their baby teeth. About 1 out of 4 children rely on Medicaid for their health insurance coverage. Dr. Neva Eklund, department chair of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry and coordinator of the event, says dental disease among children from low-income families is epidemic.

"When state revenue begins to decline, dental is often the first thing cut from state Medicaid budgets. Additionally, restoring the lost revenue has proven to be a difficult and slow task. 'Give Kids a Smile Day' is just one way to raise awareness around this issue," says Eklund. "By partnering with dental hygiene, allied health, medical, physical therapy, community colleges and public health agencies, private dentists along with community and corporate partners we are able to address this serious national problem as a community of concerned citizens."

This is the sixth consecutive year that the Foundation has teamed up with UMMC's School of Dentistry to provide students at both elementary schools FREE oral health care.

"Good oral health is the key to maintaining your body's health, and what better way to show our most precious resource [our youth] the importance of getting and keeping healthy teeth than by providing them access to the services they need," says Primus Wheeler, Executive Director for the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation.

The Jackson Medical Mall is providing transportation for Johnson and Galloway Schools to the UMC Dental clinics and the Medical Mall. For more information, call the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation at (601) 982-8467.

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