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MN Dentists Give Back with Free Care Event

Minnesota dentists are offering free dental care for lower-income or uninsured children the first weekend in February. (Minnesota Dental Association)
Minnesota dentists are offering free dental care for lower-income or uninsured children the first weekend in February. (Minnesota Dental Association)
January 18, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Thousands of Minnesota dentists plan to donate their time at a special event next month.

But they are asking for help in finding children who need free dental care. In all, they're looking to help up to 5,000 children, 18 years or younger.

Dr. Teresa Fong with Metropolitan Pediatric Dental says there is a need for free care, because many children enrolled in Medicaid don't receive dental services throughout the year.

"It's nice when kids can get some regular care,” she stresses. “And we know that there are some kids out there that don't have the availability to go to the dentist every six months."

Parents can sign their children up now for the Minnesota Dental Association's Give Kids a Smile event by calling 211. The 14th annual event takes place on Feb. 5 and 6.

Fong says another reason her group is providing free dental care is that some patients with state-funded insurance either don't have dental coverage, or may have trouble finding a dentist who will take state insurance, because the reimbursement levels are so low.

"Our state is number 50 in the entire nation in reimbursement for dental treatment, as far as state-funded treatment goes," she points out.

Fong says Minnesota dentists are reimbursed for their services at about half the rate of most other dentists in the nation.

But she maintains that, regardless of pay, dentists have a special skill and the need for care is important, especially for low-income children or those without health coverage.

"It's not going to solve every issue,” she allows. “It's a start to solving the problem."


Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN