Free and Low-Cost Dental Care for Children

Free and Low-Cost Dental Care for Children

Special programs available as part of National Children's Dental Health Month.

Dental Service Programs

Fairfax County Health Department

  • Joseph Willard Health Center: 3750 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax; 703-246-7100.
  • Herndon/Reston Office: 1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Suite 100, Reston; 703-481-4242.
  • Mount Vernon Office: 8350 Richmond Highway, Suite 233, Alexandria; 703-704-6181.

Arlington Health Department

  • Arlington County Dental Clinic: 2100 Washington Blvd. (second floor), Arlington; visit or call 703-228-1200.

Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services

4480 King St. (first floor), Alexandria
. A medical home for patients in Arlington, Alexandria and south Fairfax County. Call 703-535-5568 or visit www.neighborhoodh....

Give Kids a Smile Project

Feb. 6, 2015, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Northern Virginia Community College, Medical Education Campus, 6699 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield. Visit or call 703-820-7170.

Dental hygiene should start even before a baby’s first tooth emerges. That is one of the messages that dental professionals are hoping to convey this month.

February is designated National Children's Dental Health Month, organized by the American Dental Association, along with the ADA Foundation, to raise awareness about the benefits of good oral health for children. Dental professionals stress children should brush for two minutes twice per day, floss and rinse daily, eat healthy meals, limit snacks and visit the dentist regularly.

“To get babies comfortable with oral hygiene, begin cleaning the baby’s mouth by wiping the gums and tongue with a moist washcloth or gauze shortly after birth until teeth erupt into the mouth,” said Jeanne Yang, DDS, a public health dentist at the Joseph Willard Health Center’s dental clinic in the City of Fairfax. “It is recommended that parents bring children to their first dentist appointment preferably within 6 months of when the first tooth appears, but no later than their first birthday. And, always, always, always use a soft toothbrush, whether you are 1 or 100. A soft toothbrush should be used by all ages.”

Local health departments want the public to know that a child’s dental care need not depend on a family’s ability to afford such services. Many Northern Virginia dental clinics offer free or low-cost dental examinations, cleanings, fluoride applications, restorative services including fillings and even limited oral surgeries.

“We have three children’s dental clinics in Fairfax County,” said Tina Dale of the Fairfax County Health Department. The county’s clinics are in Mount Vernon, Fairfax and Reston. “Our dental program is just for children. Their family’s income has to be at a level where they meet Medicaid criteria.”

The Northern Virginia Dental Society is also hosting a “Give a Kids a Smile Project” on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Medical Education Campus in Springfield. The project will join dentists and dental hygiene students from NOVA with other community volunteers to offer dental services to underserved children, including preschool students in Arlington County’s Head Start program.

“A huge number of children have dental disease earlier and earlier,” said Kathy A. Thompson of Northern Virginia Community College. “This is an opportunity to get them excited about dental care and give them information on how to take care of their teeth, and introduce them to what it’s like to go the dentist.”

The slogan for the 2015 campaign is “Defeat Monster Mouth.” It’s plastered on posters that depict dental superheroes fighting to defeat “Plaqster the Monster” for good oral health. Dental providers are hoping to teach children and parents about the timing of a first dental visit, how to brush and floss properly, the effect of thumb sucking on teeth and the importance of regular dental examinations. Although the observance is a month long, health department officials keep up the effort year-round.

“We work with Arlington families on the importance of dental care from day one,” said Kurt Larrick of the Arlington County Health Department. “We’re working with parents from the times the kids are born to talk about the importance of hygiene, nutrition, tooth brushing.”