Give Kids A Smile Ohio kickoff provides free care to more than 350 children in need
Volunteer dentists from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society and dental students from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine provided free dental care to children in need Feb. 5 at the Give Kids A Smile Ohio kickoff event.
This event was the official launch of the Ohio Dental Association’s 14th annual Give Kids A Smile program. Through the Give Kids A Smile program, created by the American Dental Association, dentists and dental professionals statewide and nationally volunteer their time throughout the year to provide screenings, treatment and oral health education to children.
“Give Kids A Smile has two purposes – helping children get the dental care they so desperately need and raising awareness that our children deserve a health care system that addresses their dental health,” said ODA President Dr. Chris Connell. “Oral health is essential to good overall health. And we know that dental disease is linked to other systemic health issues, which is why it is critical that children have positive experiences with seeing a dentist early in life. And that is part of what Give Kids A Smile is all about: ensuring children and their parents understand the importance of good oral health and seeing a dentist twice a year.”
At the event, dental students and volunteers from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society provided care to more than 350 elementary students from Alfred A. Benesch, Artemus Ward and Louis Agassiz elementary schools at the CWRU School of Dental Medicine and on the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. Many of the children were pre-screened in their schools and received the preventive and restorative care they needed. More than $90,000 in free dental care was provided through the kickoff event.
“The kickoff embodies institutional leadership from volunteer dentists with the Greater Cleveland Dental Society, who mentor dental students to recognize their responsibility to eradicate the crisis by providing critically needed screenings, treatment and oral health education to nearly 400 children,” said Ohio Rep. John Barnes (D-Cleveland), who attended the event. “Denied access to dental care is one of the ‘at risk’ factors that contributes significantly to students not performing to their best in school. I’m honored to have participated in the Give Kids A Smile kickoff.”
Over the last six 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 $550,000 in free dental care for more than 2,000 children in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools.
“Dental problems can affect a person’s health, interrupt a child’s education, and impact a person’s confidence in interacting with their peers,” said Ohio Sen. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), who attended the event. “Give Kids A Smile really gives kids a chance to lead healthy lives and build positive relationships. When you give a kid a smile, they’ll give you one in return!”
Dignitaries who spoke at the event included:
- U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, MA
- William “Bud” Baeslack III, MS, PhD, provost and executive vice president of CWRU
- Dr. Chris Connell, DDS, president of the Ohio Dental Association
- Patricia DePompei, RN, MSN, president, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and MacDonald Women’s Hospital
- Eric Gordon, MEd, CEO of Cleveland Metropolitan Schools
- Dr. Kenneth Chance, DDS, dean of CWRU School of Dental Medicine
- Alex Jones, RN, Ohio Department of Health director of nursing
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 nearly $800,000.