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Free dental work being offered next month for kids across Minnesota

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Thousands of children have the opportunity to get free dental work done as part of a volunteer program set for next month.

The 13th annual Give Kids a Smile event will take place at about 200 dental offices across the state on Feb. 6 and 7, with more than 3,000 volunteers working to coordinate the event, according to a press release.

Up to 6,000 kids will be able to get work done.

An estimated 85 million kids in the U.S. don't have access to proper dental care, according to a 2013 report.

Dental offices around the state are participating – click here for a list.

To set up an appointment, you can call the clinic itself, or the United Way at 2-1-1 (or 1-800-543-7709).

The list also shows which services are being offered (for example, some offer fillings while others do not), so the site suggests discussing any specific concerns you have before making an appointment.

Participating dental offices started taking appointments last week, but more offices could end up joining the effort in the weeks ahead, Carol Embertson, the Minnesota Dental Association communications director told BringMeTheNews.

Free dental work is often in high demand, but Embertson said the Give Kids a Smile effort shouldn't get fully booked.

There may be clinics in some rural areas, with only one or two participating offices, that get filled up. But for the most part – especially if you're around the Twin Cities – availability shouldn't be a problem (though you may have to make a short drive outside of your immediate town), she said.

You can call up to the day before the free event to make an appointment.

Since Give Kids a Smile began, 60,000 children have received free care from Minnesota dentists, with donated services reaching more than $15 million.

In 2007, a Maryland boy died from a tooth infection after his mother said she could not afford to take him to a dentist, WAMU NPR reported.

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