Guess what the No. 1 chronic medical problem is for Valley children?

It’s not asthma. Or even allergies.

Here in California’s Central Valley, tooth decay is the biggest challenge.

In fact, it’s five times more common than asthma and seven times more prevalent than allergies, according to the Healthy Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation.

Across the United States, untreated tooth decay results in children missing more than 51 million hours of school instruction annually.

Fortunately, tooth decay is easily prevented.

Founded by Fresno Dentist Wayne Kodama

The late Dr. Wayne I. Kodama of Fresno started Healthy Smiles 20 years ago. During that time, the organization has provided more than $12 million (at Medi-Cal rates) worth of smiles for more than 50,000 children.

“They’re going to school hurting and Wayne wanted to alleviate that,” board member Dave Rose said in 2014 after Kodama’s death. “I see Healthy Smiles going on and growing from this, as a result of Wayne’s dedication.”

The Healthy Smiles team is a fixture at Valley schools, neighborhoods and health fairs.

Bolstering the nonprofit’s efforts: about $3 million in grants and donations.

Backed by this generous support, the Healthy Smiles team is a fixture at Valley schools, neighborhoods and health fairs.

If you’d like to help, visit the Health Smiles Mobile Dental Foundation website.

The team always needs the “little things” to provide treatment and to help children properly care for their teeth: toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, gloves, masks, stickers and pencils.

And, remember, when talking about Healthy Smiles on social media, use the #SupportHealthySmiles tag.

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