Thursday, May 22, 2003

Needy kids to get dental help

New clinic opens as tooth decay rises

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Avondale becomes home today to an expanded dental clinic expected to provide fillings and other services to more than 500 low-income children a year.

The clinic was built with more than $500,000 in financial support from Procter & Gamble and is co-sponsored by the Cincinnati Health Department and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

"This is a significant step because it will help 500 children a year get care," said Lawrence Hill, director of dental services for the city.

"We need a helluva lot more of these kinds of partnerships because there are still thousands of kids in Cincinnati that still need care," Hill said.

The new clinic at 612 Rockdale Ave. was built as an addition to a Boys & Girls Club center.

Services will be provided by city-employed staff, some of whom will be moved from a smaller dental clinic that will be closed at the health department headquarters at Burnet and Martin Luther King.

The new clinic will have more space and equipment and will employ two dentists full-time instead of one full-time and another half-time.

It will serve adults and children, but will focus on using its expanded capacity for children, Hill said.

"Adults have been more and more monopolizing our existing clinics with urgent needs," Hill said.

Last year, the Enquirer documented what officials have called an oral health crisis in Cincinnati.

The city's 10 dentists are seeing three times more urgent cases now than in 1990.

As many as 4,000 people are on waiting lists for nonurgent care.

An estimated 40 percent of Cincinnati residents lack dental insurance.

And based on reports from a dental sealant program that visits Cincinnati public schools and many private ones, more than 40 percent of 8-year-olds in the city have untreated tooth decay.


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