In response to the Ohio Dental Association's (ODA) sixth annual Give Kids A Smile! Day Ohio, dentists in Cleveland are joining with their peers across Ohio to bring smiles to the faces of needy children in their communities. Give Kids A Smile! Day is February 1, although many events will occur or continue throughout the year. In Ohio, an anticipated $1,035,895 in free care and services will be provided to over 18,000 disadvantaged children by more than 1,800 volunteers.
The Cleveland event takes place on February 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Case School of Dental Medicine clinic on Emergency Drive (off Cornell Rd). Volunteer dentists from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society (GCDS) again join in partnership with Case faculty and dental students to provide free dental care to an estimated 400 children from low income areas of the city. Approximately 60 children from the Cleveland Lighthouse Charter Community School who were examined on an earlier date by the pediatric dentistry program at Case and diagnosed with dental disease will receive their needed care that day. An additional 350-400 children coming from the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, John Raper Elementary and a second Lighthouse School will receive examinations, radiographs, cleanings, preventive care such as sealants and/or fluoride, and in some cases, restorative care, on that day.
Dr. Tom Kelly has coordinated GKAS Day in Cleveland since the program began in 2003—and has seen the program grow substantially in the numbers of children seen and the dollar value of the volunteer care. That first year, the value of the volunteer care to Cleveland children in need was $33,236. Over the next four years collectively, another $363,000 more in free dental services was provided to children in need through the Case/GCDS GKAS programs. In 2008, the anticipated dollar value of the dental services to come is $100,000.
"We are happy to provide the much needed dental care for these great kids, and can do so because of the strong commitment by the Greater Cleveland Dental Society, Case School of Dental Medicine and our local sponsors. I am thankful for the enthusiastic volunteer dentists, dental students and terrific staff who make our Give Kids A Smile! program a success in improving the oral health of the hundreds of children we are able to care for each year," Kelly said.
Dr. Ronald L. Occhionero, Associate Dean for Administration at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and past president of the Ohio Dental Association, said Case is proud of the partnership between the dental school and area dentists. "This is about helping children in need. Most of the youngsters that come through our doors on GKAS! Day have never seen a dentist and many have significant decay. We work together to improve their oral health, but also to educate their parents about the importance of good oral hygiene and the relationship between oral health and overall health."
Occhionero stressed that Give Kids a Smile Day along with the Case School Of Dental Medicines' Cleveland school-wide sealant program supports the University's focus on being good neighbors to the children of Greater Cleveland, and will take GKAS beyond the traditional one-day event. "This year in addition to providing cleanings and sealants; pediatric specialists and area dentists will continue to care for the filling needs at the School of Dental Medicine of prescreened children who are most in need."
Give Kids A Smile! Day is an annual program of the American Dental Association in which dentists and other dental professionals provide oral health care instruction and education and other dental services to children from low-income families. The ADA reports that over 44,000 volunteers across the country will provide free services to nearly 443,000 at-risk children this year.
GKAS would not be as successful without support from others in the community. In Cleveland, the program is supported by the Greater Cleveland Dental Society and the Case School of Dental Medicine, with support and assistance from Brennan Financial, Patterson Dental Supply and Ultradent. In addition to services and materials provided to GKAS volunteers by the American Dental and the Ohio Dental Association, support has also been provided by Delta Dental of Ohio. Give Kids A Smile! Day is supported nationally by Colgate, Henry Schein Dental, and Dexis Digital X-ray Systems, Inc. New this year is DenTek Oral Care, Inc., which provided 150,000 flossers to GKAS programs nationally.
The Ohio Dental Association serves 5,500 members in Ohio—approximately 80 percent of Ohio's practicing dentists. For information on public service programs, oral health issues, and dentistry in Ohio, visit http://www.oda.org—Ohio's resource for oral health information.
Note to media: Due to the need for signed parental permission and other health documentation, Give Kids A Smile Day events can only see children who are registered in advance, in most cases, through Boys & Girls Clubs, area schools, social service clubs and agencies. Please do not indicate to the public that the event is open to unregistered children.
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