Not many children rejoice about going to the dentist. But for six-year-old Julianna Tajiboyajpacaj, it was a welcome treat.
“She was very happy to be here,” said Felipa Ajpacaja, Julianna’s mom. “She enjoyed it!”
Ajpacaja said her daughter often complained of toothaches. But the financial expense of going to the dentist was a challenge for the family that recently moved to South Florida from Guatemala. So, when she saw the Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) flyer for Give Kids a Smile Day, offering free dental cleanings and exams, she knew where she would take Julianna.
“It is a very big help, said Ajpacaja. “I used to take my daughter to a dentist, but because I can’t afford it, we haven’t been. Coming here and getting that service for free meant a lot.”
It turns out that Julianna had a cavity in nearly every one of her teeth. And she is not alone, many of the children seen on February 7 at the six participating health centers were in desperate need of dental work.
“It’s heartbreaking and rewarding,” said Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton, CHI’s Director of Dental Services. “I felt like we really were able to get some of the kids that probably haven’t seen the dentist since their teeth came in.”
CHI cared for nearly 200 kids on Give Kids a Smile Day.
Dr. Watson-Hamilton said her team also saw children with serious underlying issues with their periodontal health.
“We saw three kids that had advanced juvenile periodontitis,” she said. “That is advanced bone loss where they will need to have those teeth removed.”
In all those cases, including Julianna’s, the CHI team made follow-up appointments and linked some to specialists to ensure their dental needs are cared for moving forward. As many of those families were uninsured, CHI outreach teams were on hand that day to help enroll families into insurance and other benefit programs to help them out. Those who were uninsured are also able to take advantage of CHI’s sliding fee income-based scale which assigns payment pricing based on one’s income.
For more information on CHI’s dental services go to https://chisouth.wpengine.com/services/dental-services/ or call (786) 272-2100.