Healthy Smiles Day: Free dental checkups to adults with no dental insurance
Nov. 17, 2022
Contact: Mary Wade Burnside
Public Information Officer
Monongalia County Health Department
Morgantown, WV 26505 (304) 598-5152 | www.monchd.org MaryWade.Burnside@wv.gov
For Immediate Release
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Taking a cue from MCHD Dentistry’s annual Give Kids a Smile! event, Healthy Smiles Day will once again provide a free cleaning and checkup for adults 18 years and older who do not have dental insurance.
Held on Wednesday, Nov. 23 — the day before Thanksgiving — the event allows MCHD Dentistry to give back to the community, said program manager Dr. Youseph Kassar.
The event provides similar care to uninsured adults that the annual, nationwide Give Kids a Smile does for children in February, as well as the recently introduced Free Dental Day for Veterans that took place at MCHD Dentistry and the WVU School of Dentistry on Friday, Nov. 11.
Nine patients were seen at MCHD Dentistry on Veterans Day, and each received a comprehensive exam, X-rays and a cleaning.
“We did have some cancellations, and the school did as well,” said Dr. Jordan Snyder. “We are attributing that to the bad weather.”
Appointments for Healthy Smiles Day have been filled. However, this year, unlike during the first two years of the COVID pandemic, the media is invited to cover Healthy Smiles Day. A time to visit can be coordinated with public information officer Mary Wade Burnside by calling 304-598-5152 or emailing MaryWade.Burnside@wv.gov.
MCHD Dentistry created Healthy Smiles Day in 2019, and, in spite of the COVID pandemic, saw 24 patients in 2020 and 30 in 2021. The event was created before Medicaid began providing up to $1,000 annually in dental benefits to adult patients.
“Last year, we were unsure if the new Medicaid benefit for adult patients would mean fewer patients taking advantage of Healthy Smiles Day, but that was not the case,” Kassar said. “I guess it shows there’s still a need for patients who are being left behind.”
Patients will receive a cleaning and checkup and, if needed, they also might be able to get some restorative work performed, depending on the time required and other circumstances.
More than 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay. Also, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all adults ages 30 or older show signs of gum disease; severe gum disease affects about 9% of adults. Adults who have a low income, have less than a high school education and current smokers are two times more likely to have untreated cavities than comparison groups, the CDC states.
If left untreated, cavities and gum disease lead to tooth loss, which can affect quality of life, including nutrition.
Gum disease also increases the risk of having bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can damage heart valves. The American Heart Association notes that research has shown a connection between heart disease and periodontal disease, the symptoms of which include gum infection, gum inflammation and tooth damage.
MCHD Dentistry is the only full-service dental practice located within a West Virginia health department. Services include cleanings, exams, oral health education, oral cancer screenings, digital X-rays, dental sealants, mouth guards, simple extractions, root canals, bridges, same-day crowns, implants, dentures and partials, custom bleaching trays, cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers and Invisalign tooth straightening.
Recently, MCHD Dentistry also added Botox and fillers to its lineup of services, provided by Dr. Snyder, the practice’s new second dentist.
For up-to-date information on health and wellness in Monongalia County, check out monchd.org and follow the health department on Facebook and Twitter @WVMCHD and on Instagram at #wvmchd.