CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Student Shayla Hose opened wide for Dr. Brian Kim so he could inspect her teeth yesterday at Ewa Elementary School. The Hawaii Dental Association's Dental Samaritans gave kids free screenings, oral health care lessons and dental gift packets yesterday during "National Give Kids a Smile Day."
Keiki get free dental screenings
Kids truly were smiling yesterday after dentists examined their teeth at some isle schools for "National Give Kids a Smile Day," said Dr. Russell Masunaga.
"It was a jovial thing all the way around," said Masunaga, director of the Hawaii Dental Association's Dental Samaritans, which participated for the fourth year in the national dental event.
The volunteer dentists noticed a slight increase in children needing dental attention, he said, with more referrals for dental work than in the past. But they also saw a high "restorative rate" among children with caps and fillings, he said.
The volunteer dentists and staff screened about 1,290 students at schools they had not visited in past years on Oahu and Kauai, Masunaga said.
They went to Ewa Elementary and Pohakea Elementary schools in Ewa Beach and Nanakuli Elementary School on Oahu and to Kekaha Elementary on Kauai.
Masunaga said dental hygienist Kendra Wong talked to each class for 10 to 20 minutes, and "they weren't afraid. ... We were truly giving them a smile."
Besides examining the children's teeth, dentists gave them an oral health lesson, free toothbrushes, toothpaste and informational packets.
The Oral Care package items were donated by national and local sponsors, including Crest Corp. and Global Medical & Dental.
Masunaga said the annual event is "a great opportunity" to improve oral health in the community "by calling attention to the oral health epidemic and the need to educate families and improve access to dental care."
Hawaii "is known to have the highest incidence of childhood cavities, but we also have the highest restorative rate" because of high utilization of access to care, he said.
On Oahu, participating dentists besides Masunaga included Drs. Edmund Cassella, Brian Kim, Chris Yamada, Glenn Kaneda, Cecile Sebastian and Karen Hu.
Those on Kauai were Drs. Masahiro Sato, Lisa Hirano, Timothy Hirano, Scott Shimabukuro and Stanwood Kanna, under the direction of Kauai County Dental President Antolin Apala.