Dental specialists offer care to children of low-income families

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by SHELLY SLATER

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaashelly

WFAA

Posted on June 1, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 1 at 7:06 PM

DALLAS - Did you know kids miss 51 million hours of school each year, not because of the flu, but because of dental problems?

Often, that's because parents can't afford to address the problem.

With the City of Dallas cutting back community dental programs, the need is even greater.

But there is a one-of-a-kind specialist group, tailored to help low-income families.

Noah is just five, and already at risk for needing a root canal. That can mean the difference between saving his tooth or getting it removed for life.

"We can't find a lot of dentists who will take the time to do a root canal," said mom, Jennifer Jumalon.

She says choices are limited for Noah because he, like so many, uses CHIP and Medicaid programs.

Root Canal Dentists is the only location in all of Texas dedicated to root canals for patients like him.

Dr. Rita Ne is a specialist. She says saving teeth changes lives and studies show it maintains heart health, too.

"For a young person, it is very important developmentally. It's speech, growth, self esteem. It's important to save the tooth," she said.

Budget concerns for the City of Dallas, though, have caused cutbacks for many community dental programs.

This is the reason some city council members are throwing their support behind independent clinics, like Root Canal Dentists.

"For me, this feels like the real reason I went into dentistry. A lot of patients have nowhere else to have their teeth treated," said Dr. Ne.

Councilwoman, Pauline Medrano, said the county has taken over some of the dental clinics they had to cut. But that doesn't change the fact that Root Canal Dentists is still the only group doing root canals for so many under-served patients.

 E-mail: sslater@wfaa.com

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