The West Virginia University School of Dentistry will celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month by providing free examinations to children on Friday, Feb. 12 in the WVU Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. The exams are offered for children ages 1 to 17 from 8:45 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:45 p.m.

The appointments are part of the annual “Give Kids a Smile!” national dental access program of the American Dental Association and the West Virginia Dental Association. Since 2003, the WVU School of Dentistry has provided more than 530 free children’s exams through this program.

Appointments are required, and space is limited. Those interested in an appointment should call 304-293-0401.

WVU dental students will perform the examinations under the supervision of the faculty.

“Starting proper dental care early in life will help children form good oral health habits that will carry into adulthood. Dental visits beginning no later than 1 year of age have been shown to prevent or reduce the severity of dental disease,” Elliot Shulman, D.D.S., associate professor of pediatric dentistry, said. “It is vitally important that parents take an active role in their children’s oral health education and supervise or assist them in tooth brushing.”

Nearly 1 in 4 children, aged 2 to 11 years, has untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While poor diet and oral hygiene certainly play a role, cavities are actually caused by a disease called caries, which is five times more common than asthma.

Complications arising from untreated diseases of the mouth can lead to problems in eating, speaking and learning. More than one third of West Virginia adults have lost six or more teeth as a result of decay or gum disease. This is almost twice the national average.

“It’s heartbreaking to see a child’s smile destroyed by severe tooth decay,” Louise Veselicky, D.D.S., interim dean of the WVU School of Dentistry, said. “Imagine not being able to eat, sleep and pay attention in school because you have a mouthful of toothaches. Some children have reached the point where the only alternative is a mouth full of crowns or pulling the teeth that can’t be saved. By participating in the ‘Give Kids a Smile!’ program, the WVU School of Dentistry is doing a small part in helping children get the dental care they need.”

For more information on the WVU School of Dentistry see


CONTACT: Angela Jones, HSC News Service