Even though we are surrounded by top notch medical facilities, dental health in the Bay Area is considered poor, especially among low income families.
"The need is incredibly overlooked because most people are struggling especially in lower income families, struggling with putting food on the table," UCSF School of Dentisty spokesperson Daniel Ramos, D.D.S., said
Free screenings help promote good dental health. This weekend, UCSF will offer them to children and adults in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood.
They will also be exposed to free dental education and referrals. And that's where many fall through the cracks. Most can't afford it, but the UCSF School of Dentistry has a sliding scale based on a person's income.
"So dental students can provide treatment as well as residents and dental faculty," Molly Newlon, D.D.S., said.
As of May, Medi-Cal began offering dental insurance again to poor adults. Children who qualify can get it too.
According to a 2006 report by Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, many low income children in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have dental insurance due to the children's health initiatives.
But the report says that's not enough, children and parents need to understand how to prevent tooth decay and have access to dentists.
"Many children are exposed to a lot of sugar in their diet, fast foods or sodas, sugary drinks and it's very important to also educate the parents and the families all together," Newlon said.
The UCSF screening takes about 15 minutes and appointments are not necessary.