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Brotherly Love: Dentists Give Smiles For Free

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 9,000 dentists across the country band together to provide dental care to kids who might not otherwise get it.

Six-year-old Melodie Yermish lost her first tooth in December.

“And also this one and this one is wiggly!” she showed our cameras.

With all those new teeth ready to come in, she’s getting a dental exam from Dr. Robert Frare at Compassionate Dental Care in Voorhees.

“We’re gonna scrub your teeth, make ‘em nice and sparkly,” said Dr. Frare.

His wife, Dr. Mary Frare, is in the next room doing the same thing. All these dental treatments, an estimated $200 value, are free just for today. The dentists have been offering these free exams once a year for the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile program, a tradition going on 10 years.

“It’s wonderfully rewarding because we are providing care for patients who may ordinarily wouldn’t have the opportunity to get that care,” said Dr. Robert Frare.

According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. That can hurt not just their body, but their whole life.

“It’s difficult for a kid to be in school in pain and trying to learn,” said Dr. Mary Frare.

So these exams are an opportunity to catch kids whose teeth might need help.

“Today we are seeing approximately 30,” said Deborah Buckwald, the office manager. “It’s a small office, but you give what you can, and that’s the important thing.”

The dentists also get a chance to strengthen and reinforce good dental habits. Ten-year-old Rebecca Yermish is already a pro: “Brush them, once in the morning, once at night,” she said.

“It’s great to give back,” said Dr. Mary Frare.

Give Kids a Smile events can happen all year round, and there are other resources for parents looking for low-cost dental care:

Philadelphia: Download an “Oral Health Resource Guide” at the Public Citizens for Children and Youth website (English or Spanish) at https://www.pccy.org/?page=ChildOralHealth__93.

Delaware County: The next Give Kids a Smile event is scheduled for June 11, 2012. Contact Dr. Bernadette Logan, 610-647-1666 or TBLogan@verizon.net.

Montgomery County: Contact the Montgomery/Bucks Dental Society at http://www.mbds.org.

Bucks County: Contact the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) Children’s Dental Program at 215-453-4382 or toll-free 1-800-347-6803 to find out about dental care for children from low-income families.

Delaware: For free or low-cost dental clinics for children, see a list here: http://www.delawarestatedentalsociety.org/childrenclinics.html.

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