More than 110 Council Bluffs students received free dental care from a half-dozen dental groups at eight locations Friday as part of the 13th annual Give Kids a Smile.

The event is part of the local observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month, which is held in February.

“It went really well,” said Liz Addison, director of the I-Smile program at Family Inc.

The numbers were comparable to last year, Addison said. She estimated about $40,000 worth of dental care was provided.

Most children received a checkup and cleaning — preventive care — but others received more extensive care, including fillings, crowns and extractions.

“There’s always some restorations that are done,” she said.

Council Bluffs dentists have been very supportive of the event, donating time, expertise and resources to make it happen, Addison said.

“I want to give all the credit to our local dentists, because none of this would be possible without them,” she said.

Participating dental practices included Broadway Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Children’s Dentistry of Council Bluffs, My Pediatric Dentist Council Bluffs, New Image Dentistry, Stuntz Family Dentistry and Omni Dental Centre in Council Bluffs, Carter Lake and Oakland.

In addition, dental assistant students from Iowa Western Community College helped out wherever they could, Addison said.

“It’s a great learning experience for them while they’re in the dental assistant program,” she said.

Family Inc. also credits school partners Iowa School for the Deaf, Riverside Community Schools and Council Bluffs Community Schools for providing transportation and collaboration so their students could receive care.

The children were delighted to meet the Tooth Fairy, Addison said, and of course they received new toothbrushes and toothpaste to take home with them. Mr. Molar was unable to participate this year, perhaps because of a toothache.

The key to a lifelong, healthy smile is early preventive care, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Starting children on regular dental visits by age 1, using fluoridated water and brushing twice a day can help prevent painful cavities from forming in a child’s mouth.

This year, the theme for National Children’s Dental Health Month is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!”

This year marks 75 years of community water fluoridation, which has been hailed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, according to the IDPH. Water fluoridation is a proven method for decreasing dental decay.

In Iowa, 90% of the population — over 1.6 million people — are on community water systems that provide fluoridated water. Still, 485 systems serving more than 260,000 Iowans are below the recommended level of 0.7 mg/L. To learn more about fluoride and its benefits, visit idph.iowa.gov/ohds/fluoride. For information on the level of fluoride in your drinking water, visit nccd.cdc.gov/DOH_MWF/Default/Default.Default.aspx.

Also this month, Southwest Iowa’s Children’s Oral Health Coalition will hold its third annual Oral Health Champions Recognition Celebration from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at Pizza King in Council Bluffs.

The coalition was formed in 2015 with a focus on increasing awareness that all children should see a dentist by age 1. More recently, the coalition has been focusing on projects that promote water drinking and reducing sugar-sweetened beverages.

The celebration is an opportunity to celebrate successes and recognize those in the community that have played a key role in those efforts. For more information, call Addison at 712-256-9566, ext. 220.

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