VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Sharing Smiles Day kicked off in Virginia Beach at Spencer Dental Sunday.
10 On Your Side stopped by the event shortly after it opened Sunday morning for those who may have missed out on dental care.
This is the 7th annual Sharing Smiles Day which offers dental care for children in the community for free. To date, Sharing Smiles Day has provided free dental care to over 2,000 uninsured patients in 16 states.
“There is a special need for people of all walks of life,” said Dionte Robinson with Spencer Dental & Braces on Holland Road in Virginia Beach. He says oral hygiene is key to adult health.
“No matter what community they come from there are a lot of children that currently need dental attention.”
“Once you damage the baby teeth and you don’t get those needs met, it affects the permanent teeth after it. If we stop it at the root, more people would have successful dental hygiene.”
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among U.S. children, five times as prevalent as asthma, and is one of the nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs, especially in low-income, minority, and rural communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted dental care across the country and sometimes made it harder for parents.
“Believe it or not, it was a lot of people who didn’t want to come in because of the pandemic,” said Robinson.
Now nearly 2 years later, he says they are seeing more issues like cavities and broken teeth.
“With the children, it’s becoming worse because unfortunately, it was some parents that just didn’t make the time to get to the dental office.”
On Sunday, dozens of volunteers from the offices in Newport News, Portsmouth, and Norfolk set up to help.
“Now that the pandemic has eased up. People are starting to feel more confident about coming to the dental offices.”