The 2024 Give Kids A Smile Ohio kickoff event will take place at Butler Tech Bioscience Center in West Chester on Feb. 9.

The 2024 Give Kids A Smile Ohio kickoff event will take place at Butler Tech Bioscience Center in West Chester on Feb. 9.

“For many of the children attending this event, they have had limited or no access to dental care for a host of reasons,” said Dr. Michael Vorherr who helps organize the Keely Dental Society event at Butler Tech. “These reasons can be cost of care, lack of transportation, language issues or finding someone to treat them. Our exams, cleanings and radiographs allow us to evaluate potential needs and get them started with necessary care. We try to do this in a relaxed, non-threatening environment, and the kids generally respond very well.”

At the kickoff event, volunteer dentists and dental assisting students from Butler Tech will provide radiographs, exams, fluoride treatment and prophylaxis to about 30 fifth-grade students from Rosa Parks Elementary School in Middletown.

“Because we partner with the Butler Tech Dental Assisting Program, those students are excited to be seeing real patients and working with our volunteers,” Vorherr said. “They have a lot of energy. Their instructor, Virginia Dossenback, does a wonderful job of having her students and the site ready for our program. It’s also enjoyable to get together with the other volunteers. Everyone pulls together to make it work. The children that we treat are very appreciative of our time even when they are obviously apprehensive about what we are doing.”

Through the Give Kids A Smile program, created by the American Dental Association, dentists and dental professionals across the state and nation volunteer their time throughout the year to provide screenings, treatments and oral health education to children.

“As with any volunteer event, the more people that give of their time, the smoother the event goes,” Vorherr said. “Once you give of your time, it’s easy to keep coming back. The feeling of good will that comes from volunteering more than offsets any inconvenience of time spent. Additionally, those hours can be counted towards the CE requirement for licensure, making this a very worthwhile experience. The biggest challenge we have is finding doctors to treat the issues that we find, and to have the families of the children follow through with needed treatment.”

In 2024, more than 1,698 volunteers plan to donate more than $976,862 in oral health care and education to more than 32,154 children in Ohio.

“The Give Kids a Smile program in the state of Ohio serves as an indispensable initiative, addressing the dental care needs of underprivileged children and substantially contributing to the enhancement of their oral health, thereby fostering a positive path for their overall well-being,” said ODA President Dr. Manny Chopra.

Give Kids A Smile Day is Friday, Feb. 2, but dental offices can plan events for any time throughout the year.

Give Kids A Smile activities include free dental care and/or free oral health education for children. Many dental offices hold qualifying events already and should register these activities as GKAS to receive product support, volunteer CE for dentists and hygienists providing free dental care and promotional materials. Oral health education activities in schools and other community settings also qualify for Give Kids A Smile.

Several counties in Ohio do not have any registered Give Kids A Smile activities, so if you are holding an event that may qualify please consider registering.

To register an event, go to