Head Start dental program brings holiday smiles to area children

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Children provided dental service, education

The Ozark Area Action Corporation's Head Start Holiday Smiles program is adding even more bright smiles to the season with the dental services and education it provides to underprivileged children in southwest Missouri.

Each year, the holiday campaign consists of people across the Ozarks donating funds to give children in southwest Missouri bright and healthy smiles.

Of all donations given, 100 percent are used to provide exams, preventative care, and critically-needed dental work.

To reduce expenses, OACAC uses cost-saving methods, such as on-site exams, fluoride treatments and dental education to families.

Poor dental hygiene leads to tooth decay and gum disease, kidney, liver and cardiovascular disease and can lead to diabetes. Last year, 30 percent of OACAC Head Start children ages three and four required additional treatment. Many needed repair on 12-15 of their 20 baby teeth. Most children have at least five areas of decay.

This school year, 142 Head Start children are uninsured, 254 children require dental treatments and 88 children are waiting for exams and preventative care. The campaign goal is to raise $20,000 to ensure the dental needs of all Head Start children are met.

OACAC is one of over 1,000 community action agencies across the country working toward alleviating the causes and conditions of poverty. Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide comprehensive early childhood and family development services to children from birth to 5 years old, pregnant women and families. Head Start provides a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; parental involvement and family support.

To make a difference in the life of a child, people may donate to the program online at www.oacac-caa.org, or mail a check to OACAC Head Start Smiles, 215 S. Barnes Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802, or call 417-864-3448.

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