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Health: Local Dentists Give Children A Reason To Smile

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Dentists are giving children around Philadelphia a reason to smile.

Children who don't get to the dentist are getting free visits for Smile Day at Penn Dental.

Five-year-old Zuriel Brooks-Thomas is visiting the dentist for the first time.

He know why it's important to take care of his teeth.

"Because brushing my teeth is good," says Zuriel.

Zuriel is one of nearly 600 uninsured children getting a free dental visit.

"It's a good thing, it helps the community out," says Daniel Thomas who is Zuriel's dad.

Penn Dental Medicine is among 21 practices around the region offering treatments for this annual smile day.

"So many children don't get the dental care that they need," says Dr. Joan Gluch of Penn Dental. "Either their parents are busy or their parents don't have the money to take them for dental care."

It's estimated about sixty-five thousand children around Philadelphia don't get regular dental check-ups.

For Smile Day at Penn, dental students dressed up as princesses to greet their young patients with basic information about brushing and eating healthy snacks.

"Dental decay is the most common childhood disease," Dr.Gluch explained. "And it's a combination of when there's too much sugar from fruit juices or sugary beverges and they don't have their teeth brushed as much."

Smile Day not only gets children to the dentist but it lets parents know about affordable dental insurance and even free services.

Public Citizens For Children And Youth sponsors the day which filled up quickly with children.

"Having dental pain is one of the main reasons kids miss school and they got to be in school to do their best," says Colleen McCauley of Public Citizens For Children and Youth.

We've set up links for information on low-cost and no-cost dental services for children.>

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