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UB Dental School, Area Dentists, Combine Forces to Improve Children's Dental Health

Free/low-cost screening to be offered during Healthy Smile Week, Oct 6-11

By Lois Baker

Release Date: September 30, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Taking children to the dentist is important to their overall health, but for many families in Western New York, dental care is an unaffordable luxury.

From Oct. 6-11, however, seeing a dentist will be free or cost little, thanks to 35 dentists in communities throughout Western New Work and at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.

These practitioners are participating in "Healthy Smile Week," a pilot program and the first in New York State, organized by the UB dental school's Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry, the Eighth District Dental Society and Women and Children's Hospital of Kaleida Health.

The program was announced Sept. 30 in the UB dental school's Squire Hall on the South (Main Street) Campus.

The one-week program was created in response to legislation requiring schools in New York State to request parents of children entering grades Pre-K or K, 2, 4, 7 and 10 to provide a Dental Health Certificate certifying they've had a dental screening.

"The legislation requiring schools to request Dental Health Certificates reflects the growing scientific evidence about the systemic relationship between good oral health and individuals' overall quality of health," said Joseph Bernat, D.D.S., chair of the UB Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry.

Healthy Smile Week also will encourage parents to select a family dentist – "a dental home" – where their children would be seen regularly.

"Since many children do not have access to dental care, Healthy Smile Week is intended to advocate for oral health and serve those children who do not have dental insurance and whose schools are requesting a Dental Health Certificate," said Paul Creighton, D.D.S., clinical associate professor and director of community dentistry.

"For these children, free or reduced cost screening and completion of the Dental Health Certificate will be available at participating dentists."

Private dental practitioners and community health centers in Batavia, Buffalo – including the dental clinics at the UB dental school on UB's South Campus – Cheektowaga, Clarence, Depew, East Aurora, Eggertsville, Getzville, Gowanda, Hamburg, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Leroy, Lockport, Newfane, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Orchard Park, Pavillion, Salamanca, and Williamsville, have set aside hours during the week of Oct. 6 to provide the screenings.

For specific hours, parents can check http://www.sdm.buffalo.edu/outreach or call (716) 861-3593.

"This initiative is the first of its kind in the state, and if successful, may be repeated again later in the school year," said Frank Barnashuk, D.D.S., president of the Eighth District Dental Society, the local component of the American Dental Association. "This is a fine example of the collaborative relationship between the UB School of Dental Medicine and private practitioners in Western New York."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities. The School of Dental Medicine is one of five schools that constitute UB's Academic Health Center.