Give Kids A Smile events expected to provide more than $790,000 in care

Children receive oral health care instruction

Children receive oral health care instruction at the 2015 Give Kids A Smile Ohio kick-off event at Mercy Medical Center in Canton. This year’s kick-off event will be Feb. 5 at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

The 14th Annual Give Kids A Smile Ohio kick-off event will be Feb. 5 at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. The kick-off event is one of many Give Kids a Smile programs that will take place throughout the year to help children in need receive access to quality dental care.

“Give Kids A Smile is a demonstration of all that is great from organized dentistry,” said ODA President Dr. Chris Connell. “Care for patients, community commitment, dental student mentoring and networking among member dentists and dental students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Since 2016 is the 150th Anniversary of the ODA, I can’t think of a better way to begin the year’s programming.”

Dental students and volunteers from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society will provide care to nearly 400 elementary students from Alfred A. Benesch, Artemus Ward and Louis Agassiz elementary school at the CWRU School of Dental Medicine and on the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Ronald Mcdonald Care Mobile that day. Many of the children will be pre-screened in their schools and will receive the preventative and restorative care they need. Nearly $50,000 in free dental care is expected to be provided through the kick-off event.

“I always look forward to interacting with Case dental students from all four years of their dental training, various faculty and administrators at Case, who generously support the event at their institution, volunteer members of the Greater Cleveland Dental Society and staff, and hundreds of children from the surrounding community, who may be seeing a dentist for the first time,” Connell said.

Over the last five years, volunteer dentists with the Greater Cleveland Dental Society and dental students from the CWRU School of Dental Medicine have joined together to provide more than $500,000 in free dental care for more than 1,500 children in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools.

“The Case event is very special, not only because of the number of children who are able to be seen, but because of the added benefits to dental education, when volunteer dentists can mentor dental students,” Connell said. “Each year before the dental students are assigned to their children patients for the day, I remind them that this may be the first opportunity for these young people to interact with dentistry. The care provided, including an oral examination, dental prophylaxis, appropriate radiographs and sealants, along with proper oral hygiene instruction and information about good oral health, all make this program a symbol of dentistry’s commitment to community. These dental students can have tremendous influence on how these children will perceive dental care and its importance for their lifetimes.”

The kick-off event will feature presentations by Connell; U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown; William “Bud” Baeslack, provost and executive vice president of CWRU; Dr. Kenneth Chance, dean of CWRU School of Dental Medicine; and Eric Gordon, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Terrence Lee, “Good Morning Cleveland” co-anchor, will emcee the event. National and state policymakers and local civic leaders are expected to be in attendance.

“This year’s program at Case will serve as the kick-off event for the entire state of Ohio, which will host a multitude of programs at schools, private dental offices, and various other facilities, including The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, throughout the year,” Connell said.

For 2016, an estimated 17,300 children are expected to be seen by more than 380 dentists at more than 75 Give Kids A Smile events across the state. The value of care provided is projected to be more than $790,000.

Participating dentists decide the scope, location, number of children and dates of their events. Programs range from basic screening and preventive care to full restorative.

The U.S. Surgeon General continues to report that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental disease – and that a child in pain from dental disease will most likely have difficulty functioning in school. In 2011, the Ohio Department of Health reported that access to dental care is our state’s number one unmet health care need for children and low-income adults. Dentists can help make a difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable children by hosting or participating in a Give Kids a Smile program.

For more information, dentists can visit, or contact ODA Manager of Public Service and ODA Foundation Kristy Kowalski by calling (800) 282-1526 or emailing