HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As dentists from across the nation gather in Honolulu for an annual session, a few of them gave back to Hawaii’s keiki Thursday by providing free dental check-ups in Kalihi.
The check-ups were conducted at the Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, an organization that that focuses on providing quality dental care to children in need.
Hawaii’s keiki have the highest rates of tooth decay in the country.
According to the State health department, children here have 52 percent more cavities than the national average.
In 2011, the Pew Center gave Hawaii an “F-grade" for children’s dental health and deemed the state was the “worst overall performer” in the nation.
“Oral health is a sign of complete overall health,” said Joe Castelano, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “Children with oral health problems, cavities stuff like that tend to do poorer in school, they can be malnourished. They can have other health problems.”
The Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children: Foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has provided $65,000 dollars in grants to Hawaii organizations so they can provide dental care to under-served children.
Three Hawaii organizations have received grants: the KKV, the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and the Kalihi-Palama Health Center.
These grants have helped the KKV provide dental care to 1,500 keiki.
More than 15,000 dentists are expected to attend the American Dental Association’s third annual meeting in the islands.