HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Many families have been forced to adjust their finances during the pandemic, and for some, that means choosing between food on the table or adequate health care.
For Jacqueline Hills and her family, one of those adjustments was a cut to dental insurance.
"We always would get our kids' teeth cleaned twice a year, but you know when finances get tighter and insurance costs go up some of those outlying services you kind of start to chop up," Hills said.
It's thanks to a partnership between the Children's Board of Hillsborough County and Tampa Family Health Services her daughter, almost a teenager, is able to get a teeth cleaning and screening at a low cost.
Dexter Lewis with the Children's Board of Hillsborough County said the partnership allows a mobile dental bus to visit each of one of the six centers a month.
Through the non-profit organization people ages 20 and under can receive a free dental screening.
"They'll look for cavities. They'll look for tooth decay. The parents will get some sort of an education to make sure they're aware of how important dental hygiene is to a child," Lewis said.
Families who would like a little more than a screening can also visit the bus for low cost services.
Dr. Tamara-Kay Tibby is the Dental Director at Tampa Family Health Centers and said the savings of early detection and prevention can be in the thousands of dollars.
"The average dental ER visit for preventable dental issue is $1500. Our services are about $130 per patient," Dr. Tibby said.
Dr. Tibby said about one in four kids in Hillsborough County is dealing with a dental issue.
Not only is it a distraction for them in places like the classroom, she said, but it can lead to bigger problems.
"We are seeing that there is a connection between your body and the rest of your mouth. So, cardiovascular disease, stroke, other heart conditions," Dr. Tibby said. "You cannot be healthy without good oral health."
For more information about free dental screenings click here.
For more information about low cost dental services through Tampa Family Health Clinics and their locations click here.