Have a Heart Day offers free dental care

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On Saturday, Feb. 14, Family Dentistry Associates of Monona, Waukon Dental and Dental Associates of Prairie du Chien will again hold Have a Heart Day, an annual event that provides free dental care for area kids. Last year, the clinics served 100 patients, providing over $29,000 in services. (File photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

On Saturday, Feb. 14, Family Dentistry Associates of Monona, Waukon Dental and Dental Associates of Prairie du Chien will again hold Have a Heart Day, an annual event that provides free dental care for area kids.

The service began 25 years ago in Monona and Waukon, in relation to a Dentists with a Heart program already in practice across the country, said Dr. Mark Fohey. When the Prairie du Chien office opened 21 years ago, Have a Heart Day also took root there.

Have a Heart Day typically takes place the Saturday closest to Valentine’s Day, which, this year, happens to actually be Valentine’s Day. Children ages 4 to 18 can take advantage of several procedures at no charge, including exams, consultations, x-rays, fillings, extractions and sealants. 

The goal is to provide services for anyone who hasn’t recently sought dental care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two out of every 10 children ages 2 to 17 in the United States have not had a dental visit within the past year.

“We gear it toward kids rather than adults because we’ve seen a bigger need there,” Fohey said. “Some people fall between the cracks of government assistance or insurance. It can also be difficult if you have multiple kids.”

Last year, said Deb Hertges, Family Dentistry Marketing Director, the clinics served 100 patients, providing over $29,000 in free dental services.

“I wish more people would take advantage,” Fohey added, noting that there are no income requirements to participate. “Anyone should be willing to do something for their kids.”

While dental care can be intimidating for some people, Fohey said staff offer healthy snacks and a festive Valentine’s atmosphere to put the children at ease. 

“We make it a fun day. Everyone has a good time,” he said, explaining that the staff also enjoys that they’re able to provide this service. “It makes you feel good to pass on good fortune, to pay it forward.”

Despite the addition of two new doctors in 2014, allowing the offices to see more patients on Have a Heart Day, Fohey said the schedule fills up quickly, and encourages people to make an appointment early.

“We want to see as many people as possible,” he said, “but we’re limited on time and space.”

Those who would like to make an appointment for Have a Heart Day should call the closest office to where they live. Contact the Monona office at (563) 539-4651, the Prairie du Chien office at (608) 326-6886 or the Waukon office at (563) 568-4528.

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