Elgin-area children younger than 6 will have access to free dental services this week as a professional group encourages families to get their kids to the dentist by the time they turn 1.
The Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation is hosting training for dentists Thursday, Aug. 8, and will open the "Dentist By 1" event from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9., at Elgin Community College.
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Frank Maggio, an Elgin periodontist, has been chairman of the Naperville-based foundation's board for three years. He said many parents, but not enough of them, bring their young ones in for early dental visits.
"What we're trying to do is not only educate the patient themselves on proper hygiene and what to do but particularly to educate the parent," Maggio said.
If the dentists can educate kids soon enough, Maggio said, good hygiene habits can be formed before any problems start.
The event will be set up in the ECC Dental Clinic in Building A at the college, 1700 Spartan Drive. Kids can show up without an appointment, but they need a parent or guardian's written permission to take advantage of free dental exams, X-rays, cleanings and fluoride treatments.
Children will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis; the foundation expects to have time and space for about 60 kids.
Families will also have access to preventive education and referrals if any additional care is necessary. The Greater Elgin Family Care Center is copresenting the event and its dental clinic will serve as the referral location for children who need extra work.
The Delta Dental Foundation has hosted events to teach area dentists how to serve such young patients but this is the first time they have opened one up to the community. Maggio said it will serve the dual purpose of training professionals and serving those in need.
All kids will all leave with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and an oral health instructional sheet in English and Spanish.