DuPage County Health Department provides free dental screenings for children

The DuPage County Health Department in Wheaton provided free dental screenings for children on Friday in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s “Give Kids A Smile Day” event.

In addition to the free exam, children learned about oral health and were given an oral health care kit each.

Clayton Henning, 15, of Woodridge, was eager to sit in the dentist’s chair.

“Just to make sure that my teeth are healthy and ... up to date,” said Henning, a sophomore at Downers Grove South High School.

Beth Enke, assistant director of dental at the DuPage County Health Department, said they have been participating in the event between 15 and 20 years.

  Dr. Marguerite Barbagallo, examines Clayton Henning, 15, of Woodbridge during a free dental screening Friday in Wheaton. The DuPage County Health Department is participating in an American Dental Association event, “Give Kids A Smile Day,” by offering exams by appointment only. Brian Hill/

“Once the kids come in, if they have a problem, we try to address that by giving them referrals, or have them come back into our clinic if need be for a cleaning, or a follow up for cavities,” Enke said. “It’s important because if you don't have good oral health, it affects your overall body health. If you can’t chew, (it) makes it hard to digest food. If you have a tooth that hurts, it makes it hard to focus.”

Children from low-income families are twice as likely to have untreated cavities as those from higher-income households, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Untreated cavities can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking and learning, the CDC reports.

The DuPage health department runs a dental clinic that provides dental care for eligible school-aged children.

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