More than 1,000 show up for free dental care in Williamson County

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A trip to the dentist for an annual cleaning is something many may take for granted. But for several families in our area, dental care only comes when volunteers offer it up for free.

Dentists and others volunteered their time on Friday in Georgetown providing free dental work to more than 1,000 people at the Texas Mission of Mercy event.

The free work really helps people like Jenifer Simank, who has not had her teeth cleaned in 13 years.

“A lot of people don’t have the money to have dental work and they’ll let their teeth go worse and worse and worse,” Simank said. “This opportunity, we can have a better idea what we’re looking at, but also what we can look for in the future.”

The help is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and continues Saturday at East View High School in Georgetown. Doors open at 6 a.m., and the treatments end at 5 p.m.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, lack of access to dental care leaves a lasting impact. By age 5, about 60 percent of kids in the U.S. have had a cavity. The academy adds that cavities are the most common disease young children face, and the rates are increasing.

Dentists warn the cavities can affect everything from the child’s health, to their schooling and self-esteem.

Advocates say the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, could help. They estimated about 9 million more kids will get dental insurance through Medicare expansions, insurance exchanges and employer-sponsored insurance. Still, some dentists criticize the ACA because while the “individual mandate” requires you to have health insurance, it does not require dental coverage.

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