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Durham County Health Department is teaming up with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry for Give Kids a Smile Day on February 3, 2012, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Durham County Health Department.

The event, hosted annually the 1st Friday in February during Children’s Dental Health Month, will provide dental care to children ages birth to 17 years old that otherwise may not be able to afford or access care.

“Many people do not realize that dental decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood,” states Dr. Miriam McIntosh, director of Dental Practice at the Durham County Health Department. “This is of great concern to us because decayed baby teeth can become infected causing problems with the adult teeth, as well as problems with speech, eating, self-esteem, and concentrating in school.”

On February 3, the clinic with the purpose of increasing access to dental care for children in the Durham community will be operated by Durham County Health Department staff as well as faculty and students from UNC School of Dentistry. The services offered include cleanings, fillings, extractions, and education on proper oral care. All services are free of charge.

“In Durham, 11 percent of kindergarteners and 7 percent of 5th graders are in poor oral health. Children from low-income families have the greatest risk of dental problems.”

To further education outreach efforts regarding children and oral hygiene, the Durham County Health Department and students from UNC School of Dentistry will pair up again in late February to provide “Lessons in a Lunch Box” at Y.E. Smith Elementary School during regular school hours. Dental students will present proper oral care techniques to children in selected classrooms. Smith’s student participants will receive lunch boxes filled with toothbrushes and toothpaste for the students and dental health literature for parents.

For more information about these events or to schedule an appointment with the Durham County Health Department Dental Clinic, call 919-560-7681 or email jharris@durhamcountync.gov.