The School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provided more than $16,000 in free dental care services to more than 90 Durham Head Start children ages 3-5 on Friday, Feb. 7. The event was held in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day, a program that began 11 years ago to address and raise awareness of untreated dental disease in children.
“At our Give Kids a Smile Day event, we provided preventive dental care to more than 90 Durham Head Start participants while educating them about ways to take change of their oral and overall health for the rest of their lives,” said Ben Anders, a second-year D.D.S. student and one of the event co-chairs. “Our School of Dentistry participants, student athletes, and students from the UNC Schools of Nursing, Medicine and the Gillings School of Global Public Health all came together to make our event a true success.”
Anders’s co-chairs on the event were fellow second-year D.D.S. student Mackenzie Hatfield and third-year D.D.S. student Gentry Lasater.
The event garnered more than 200 volunteers, in the form of students, residents, staff and faculty members from the School of Dentistry. Most School of Dentistry volunteers provided dental care to the children. The care provided included dental exams, tooth cleanings and fluoride varnish treatments. Paid for in private practice, the estimated total cost of the care provided through the event is $16,185.
In addition to the dental care, the children also participated in a health fair. One station at the fair was designed to get the children moving, another allowed the children to dress like a dentist and others provided education on tooth brushing, hand washing, nutritional habits and overall body health. Volunteers from the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC School of Nursing, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and members of the UNC volleyball and football teams participated alongside dentistry volunteers.
“I am particularly proud of the way our Give Kids a Smile Day showed how interdisciplinary collaboration among dental, medical and public health providers can have an impact on our patients and their families,” said Anders. “I believe that our school’s Give Kids a Smile Day exemplifies how successful and fun these collaborations can be.”