American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry foundation establishes a Dental Home Day in Hawaii

June 4, 2018
More than 100 children from Waianae Coast communities in Hawaii received free pediatric dentistry at Dental Home Day in late May.
Volunteer dentist helps child with tooth drawing.

More than 100 children from Waianae Coast communities in Hawaii received free dental care at Dental Home Day hosted at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) in late May. For participating children, the event was the first visit in a full year of free dental care at WCCHC thanks in part to a grant by Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children: The Foundation of the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the support of Sunstar Americas.

Dental Home Day is a service event held in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s annual session, held this year on Oahu. Pediatric dentists from across the U.S. come together to help underserved children and give back to the host city during this day of service in a year of care.

Healthy Smiles works to ensure that every child, regardless of ability to pay, has a Dental Home—a place to receive consistent, compassionate dental care. Healthy Smiles does this by providing grants to local community health-care organizations that offer pediatric dental services. On Oahu, Healthy Smiles has granted a total of $65,000 over the past 24 months to three community health centers: Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (Access to Care Grant), Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (first ever President’s Grant), and Kalihi-Palama Health Center (Access to Care Grant provided in 2017).

“As individuals and as an organization, pediatric dentists embrace the opportunity to help children live better lives by addressing their oral health needs. We are honored to help these local healthcare organizations that are dedicated to providing underserved children with healthy smiles,” said Dr. Neophytos L. Savide, Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children president.

“We are grateful to Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children for their grant to support our pediatric dental program. Dental Home Day has been a fun way to celebrate this generous gift while also giving visiting dentists a chance to share with children and their family members how important early and consistent dental care is to their overall health,” said Dr. Dan Fujii, WCCHC dental director.

Group of Hawaiian children pose during Dental Home Day.

Hawaii’s pediatric oral health-care challenge

Dental cavities are the number one chronic infectious disease among U.S. children, while many children do not have access to dental care. Hawaii is not immune from this oral healthcare challenge. In fact, Hawaii’s children have the highest prevalence of tooth decay in the U.S., 52% higher than the national average, according to Hawaii Smiles, a report from the Hawaii State Department of Health (2014-2015). The study found that 22% of children had untreated tooth decay and 7% had untreated tooth decay, demonstrating that many do not have the dental care they need.

The goal of HSHC is to provide Dental Homes to one million children by the year 2021. The foundation is the charitable giving arm of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Since 2010, Healthy Smiles has donated more than $4.5 million to support access to care initiatives that have provided Dental Homes to more than 320,000 children in 32 states, plus the District of Columbia. To learn more, visit http://www.healthysmileshealthychildren.org.