Give Kids a Smile Day provides free dental care to children ages six months to 17 years who don’t have dental insurance.
Photo by: stimpsonjake
Pop quiz, hot shot: What is the most common disease among kids worldwide?
Early childhood caries.
Not what you expected? Not even sure what that means?
“Early childhood caries” is sort of a blanket term for tooth decay or cavities in young children and, according to the World Health Organization, 60 to 90 percent of school children have them. But what’s the big deal, right? They’re cavities! Kids get them all the time! Well, unhealthy baby teeth can lead to unhealthy adult teeth; unhealthy adult teeth (i.e. oral infections) are linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, premature and/or low weight births, and some cancers.
That took a serious turn, didn’t it?
Prevention and access are key, so says the American Dental Association. ADA President Dr. Maxine was quoted back in May of last year as saying, “We know that prevention works. While it is critical to treat disease that has already occurred, the public health community needs to increase its focus on proven means of preventing it […] Community water fluoridation, sealant programs for children, teaching people how to take care of their families’ teeth and gums, and getting the greatest possible number of children and adults into dental homes are the keys to better oral health for everyone.”
But what do we do when one out of every 16 children in the United States–that’s just over 4.5 million–does not receive needed oral health care because their families can’t afford it?1
If you’re the ADA, you create a program in 2003 called Give Kids a Smile (GAKS) that allows children nationwide to receive free oral health services. Give Kids a Smile Day is celebrated nationally on the first Friday in February. Each year dentists, dental students, assistants, and hygienists (see the Oxford Dental Care’s list of cosmetic dentist options provided as well) donate their time and talents to provide free dental care for children who need it but aren’t able to get it.
This year’s Give Kids a Smile Day will take place on February 5th. Here in town, representatives from the Richmond Dental Society, DentaQuest, Virginia Dental Association Foundation, VCU School of Dentistry, as well as a ton of local dentists will set up shop at the Acca Shriners Temple (1712 Bellevue Avenue) from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM to offer visuals exams, teeth cleanings, fluoride varnish, and oral hygiene instruction.
Children ages six months to 17 years old are eligible to receive care on Give Kids a Smile Day.2 To schedule an appointment call 804.828.9095.
For more information on Give Kids a Smile Day–and to sign up for email updates about other GAKS events in the area–visit virginiagivekidsasmile.org.
- According to the National Maternal & Child Oral Health Resource Center. ↩
- If your child is over 17, VCU Dental Care is an affordable option. ↩