ATLANTA, Aug. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care in underserved communities nationwide, today announced $6.7 million in uncompensated dental care provided by its affiliated dental practices through June 2015. The national children's dental provider is on track to provide more than $13 million in uncompensated care through the end of the year.
"Kool Smiles was founded on the belief that every person deserves a dentist, including those without any form of insurance," said Dr. D Ray Gifford, Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles. "Although we are proud to accept Medicaid and other insurance plans that most dentists do not, we also recognize that there are specific procedures that the American Dental Association or American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend where no specific reimbursement is available," continued Gifford. "Recognizing that children who go without access to dental care can face lifelong struggles and health problems, we feel it is our moral and professional obligation to also provide these recommended services so that every person can have a healthy, happy smile."
According to the Pew Center's 2013 report, In Search Of Dental Care, each year in the United States tens of millions of children – disproportionately low-income – go without seeing a dentist, which can lead to pain, worsened health, and costly emergency room visits for untreated dental problems. Analysis of federal data by the American Dental Association (ADA) shows that ER dental visits doubled from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.2 million in 2012 – one visit every 15 seconds.
"We recognize that emergency care is the last, least effective option to solving the oral health crisis in America," concluded Gifford. "That's why we also invest a significant amount of our time and resources to community programs that provide dental health education and teach preventative healthcare."
Kool Smiles' community outreach programs include Operation Troop Treats, an annual Halloween candy exchange program benefiting U.S. troop serving overseas. Through a partnership with Operation Gratitude, Kool Smiles and its patient communities have donated more than four tons of candy and sent 600 care packages to troops serving abroad since 2012. 2015 was the flagship year for Kool Smiles' Sharing Smiles Day, a day of free dental care for children without dental insurance, held in February during Children's Dental Health Month. During Sharing Smiles Day 2015, Kool Smiles volunteers were able to help more than 400 children receive needed dental care.
In addition to annual events, Kool Smiles also provides free dental health lesson plans and dental kits to K-5 classrooms throughout the year.
Founded in 2002, Kool Smiles operates more than 120 dental practices across 15 states and the District of Columbia, primarily in underserved communities that have historically lacked sufficient providers for the Medicaid patient population. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), approximately 80 percent of dentists do not accept patients with Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Plans (SCHIP), citing, among other reasons, low reimbursement for their services. Kool Smiles helps provide a safety net for these patients, with approximately 80-90 percent of its patient population consisting of Medicaid or SCHIP enrollees.