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ATLANTA – Kool Smiles, a provider of quality dental care in underserved communities nationwide, announced a record amount of free care provided in its offices during the first half of 2012.

With approximately $8 million in free dental care and services donated already in 2012, the company is on track to exceed the $14 million provided last year, firmly establishing Kool Smiles as the safety net for dental care in the United States.

“Kool Smiles was founded because we truly believe that every person deserves a dentist, including those without any form of insurance or ability to pay for the services,” said Dr. Paul O. Walker, Kool Smiles vice president for clinical quality and a board-certified pediatric dentist. “We’re proud that by providing free dental care, as well as care to Americans with insurance plans that most dentists reject, we are able to fulfill our mission of providing first-rate dental services to communities that are often overlooked or are otherwise underserved.”

Founded in 2002, Kool Smiles operates 130 dental practices across 16 states and the District of Columbia, primarily in underserved communities that have historically lacked sufficient providers for the Medicaid populations.

Kool Smiles has South Carolina offices in Orangeburg, Anderson, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Sumter. To date, Kook Smiles has donated more than $591,000 in dental care in the state.

“Although we do accept insurance plans that most dentists reject, we also recognize that there is a significant number of patients who lack any type of coverage whatsoever,” Wallker said. “Recognizing that children who go without access to quality dental care can face lifelong struggles and health problems, we feel it is our moral and professional obligation to also donate our services so that every child can have a healthy, happy smile.”

According to the Pew Center’s 2011 Report on the State of Children’s Dental Health, tooth decay is the most common diseases of childhood – five times more common than asthma.

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Lee Harter has been editor of The Times and Democrat since 1981

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