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Local dental clinic offers affordable care for kids without insurance

February 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Dental pain is one of the top reasons kids miss school. Studies show children with poor oral health don't do well academically. Many low-income families can't afford to go to the dentist. One local clinic's mission is to help kids without insurance.

Nine-year-old Alexa couldn't sleep at all. Single mom Paige Eller doesn't have dental insurance, so they would've ended up in an emergency room.

But at the Kids' Community Dental Clinic in Burbank, her daughter gets all the dental work she needs.

"If we need an entodontist or just a pedio or any teeth cleaning, we're able get the help, and sometimes for free," said Paige.

"There's a lot of children that are underprivileged, come from needy families and have no place to turn," said Dr. Charles Maseredjian, Kids' Community Dental Clinic.

Maseredjian has been donating his services to low-income families for more than 25 years, and the need keeps growing.

"It's very important taking care of your teeth, and we just want to start them at a young age and hopefully they carry it over as adults," said Maseredjian.

Some of the clinic's most recent cases include young patients with numerous infections, cavities and decay.

One young man didn't have any front teeth. Now he has a perfect smile. It could have cost him tens of thousands of dollars.

"We don't take any kind of coverage at all. We are solely here for uninsured patients," said Dale Gorman, Kids' Community Dental Clinic.

You would think a clinic that offers low-cost and no-cost dental treatment would have patients lining up out the door, but the staff says that many kids are still afraid of dentists. That's where outreach and education come in.

"A lot of families think that there's a catch. I'm there to remind them that there's not. This is a true non-profit and we're here to help," said Ana Gomez, a dental assistant at the clinic.

Gomez regularly goes to schools to do screenings. The Kids' Community Dental Clinic stays afloat with corporate grants and individual donations. Most visits cost $15. More than 40 volunteer dentists, hygienists and dental students help treat hundreds of patients a month.

Thanks to a few lessons in dental hygiene, 7-year-old Andrea Soto doesn't have any cavities.

"It's really cool all the information they give us," said Andrea.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month, so the clinic will be offering free screenings. The Kids' Community Dental Clinic runs on private donations.

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