Clinic provides state-of-the-art dental care to Valley kids

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Dental care is one of the first things many families skip when money is tight, and it has a big effect on both the health and academic performance of kids.

But one school district tackled the problem, and it is helping kids from all around the Valley to smile a little brighter. Kids like 11-year-old Kamyla Acosta, who is getting checked for braces. And believe it or not, she is actually excited about it, according to her mom Karina Lugo. “She was so excited this morning,” says Lugo. “She was brushing her teeth to get ready. She woke me up, so that is good.”

Lugo says that has a lot to do with the dentist's office. “It is comfortable for her, and the way they treat the parents and kids to come inside and be with them, that is what I like, too.”

“I think it is very friendly,” Kamyla adds. “I like all the dentists here and everybody is really nice.”

But what you might find surprising is this dentist's office is located in one of the Valley's most impoverished areas, in the heart of the Murphy Elementary School District near 31st Avenue and Buckeye.

But it doesn't look like it, says Dr. Kris Volcheck. “This could be Scottsdale or this could be Manhattan, but I wanted to give this community the very best and I wanted it to look the very best.”

Dr. Volcheck is executive director of The Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry, built by the Murphy School District and funded by the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation.

The center is filling a critical need. “There are just are not dentists in this area, and the few that are here can't meet the capacity.”

Dr. Volcheck says a general lack of dentists and a specific lack of those who accept patients on AHCCCS or with no insurance, has led to big problems in this district. “In the schools, the number one reason for these children to miss is not health care; it is dental care. So they either have an abscess or pain, and that keeps them out of school.”

But this clinic, full of state-of-the-art equipment and staffed by specialists, is changing all of that for kids from all over the Valley. “In Maricopa County, anyone who needs service can come to this clinic; we are an open clinic.”

For both those who can pay and those who can't, all levels of care are provided, from cleanings to orthodontics.

Lugo says the location, payment plans and treatment make life much easier.

“It would not be affordable for us to pay both of them,” Lugo says. “The rate here, the plan they have for us, as a parent, it helps us a lot.

And that is definitely something to smile about, she says. “If they are happy that is all that matters to us,” she says.

This idea for the clinic was sparked by a similar clinic for the homeless at Central Arizona Shelter Services.

This clinic is open to kids up to age 21. You can contact the Parsons Center at

http://murphykidsdentalclinic.org

The Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry

3140 W. Buckeye Road

Phoenix, AZ 85009

(602) 353-5435

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