LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tooth decay is the number one chronic health problem of children and many families lack dental coverage.
For many the deductibles are too high, but a community program is working to give dental care to every child for free.
It had been awhile since 8-year-old Clarissa Lalin and her 6-year-old brother Jacob saw a dentist.
"On one side they had to do a filling with a root canal and also a crown," Clarissa described.
The Lalin family of Boyle Heights has health insurance, but no dental coverage.
"We wouldn't have enough money to cover to pay for all that," Adela Lalin, Clarissa and Jacob's mother explained.
Both Clarissa and Jacob needed root canals and crowns. They had the procedures done for free thanks to the QueensCare Mobile Dental Clinic at White Memorial Medical Center.
QueensCare is staffed with University of Southern California pediatric dental specialists who provide X-rays, exams, cleaning, sealants, fillings, extractions and more.
"This program provides no-cost dental care to children between the ages of 5 and 18," Kathy Williamson with QueensCare said.
By kindergarten, more than 50 percent of children in California have had tooth decay and the California Dental Association estimates 500,000 children missed school in the last year due to dental problems.
"We're trying to get the word out that we're here and that we're offering free services," Pediatric dentist, Dr. Camille Nishikawa of the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC said. "People make appointments with us and we want to take care of their children."
The mobile unit can see up to 20 patients a day, but in the last month, QueensCare has only seen 45 patients. The problem is many parents think there's a catch, but there isn't, according to QueensCare.
Dr. Nishikawa said the staff does not ask for any insurance information, just a brief health history.
The mobile unit works all year round often providing care at public schools. At White Memorial Medical Center, QueensCare and USC will be offering free dental services until Aug. 5.
If you'd like to make an appointment, call (323)552-3458.
LA program offers free dental care for children without a catch