KIDS IN NEED OF DENTISTRY’S VOLUNTEER DENTAL PROFESSIONALS
In 1912, a group of Denver dentists joined together to provide dental care for the children of miners and railroad workers with limited incomes. A small dental charity, Kids In Need of Dentistry (KIND) was born. They set forward from that time with the mission to utilize their very particular skill set to provide service to children from infants to 18 years of age who would not otherwise be able to obtain dental treatments. In the last 90 years, this small local group of dentists and their peers has grown to become a great force in combating the oral health problems of children in Colorado. They now have over 150 volunteers that include dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental students and community volunteers.
A toothache can be similar to having a cold. There can be significant pain involved as well as a loss of appetite, concentration, interest in school and in one’s social and family life. A toothache and cold differ, however, in that the cold will get better without treatment over time; whereas the toothache will only get worse. It can actually get to the point of becoming potentially terminal.
More than 2.5 million school hours were lost nationally due to toothaches in 1998. Further, an initial dental appointment alone can easily cost over $200, which is a high starting fee for a family who does not have access to general dental insurance. With the help of KIND’s volunteer force, the charity is able to charge only ten percent of the value of the service completed on a child. This makes dental treatments financially feasible, and no child has ever been turned away due to an inability to pay.
During the last fiscal year alone, KIND volunteers provided in excess of $536,000 worth of services to uninsured children. Volunteers help in a number of different ways. A volunteer may go to one of KIND’s 4 clinics to treat children, they may see the children in their own office for specialized treatment or they may travel on KIND’s 36’ mobile clinic to see children in the far reaches of Colorado’s western slope. Volunteers may also go to a lower-income Denver elementary school to examine and place sealants on second grade students to prevent future decay on their permanent molars.
Since its inception, KIND volunteer dental professionals have rebuilt the self-esteem through a child’s confidence in his or her smile. This is a benefit that results in them succeeding in school as well as socially. KIND is an active part of giving needy families a new chance for their children. They no longer have to hide their smiles and all the possibilities that lie behind them.