Outreach, Pediatric Dentistry

Students Provide Nearly $9,000 in Free Dental Care to Local Children

More than 200 volunteers met approximately 120 children at the UNC School of Dentistry to provide free dental care services and overall health education at the school’s Give Kids a Smile Day event.

The Durham Head Start children, ages 3-5, received dental treatment from UNC School of Dentistry student dentists, hygienists and residents at the Friday, Feb. 6 event. The care – which was provided to approximately 70 of the attending children – included an oral screening, fluoride varnish treatment and, when necessary, referral to another facility for further dental care. If provided through private practice, the care would have cost nearly $9,000.

“Our second annual Give Kids A Smile Day was an outstanding success,” said Ben Anders, DDS candidate 2016 and event co-chair. “With the help of our UNC partners and professional schools, we once again proved the impact that interdisciplinary collaboration and public service has on students, faculty, staff, and, most importantly, the community members we serve. The School of Dentistry is thankful for the hard work of students from UNC Schools of Nursing and Medicine, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and UNC student-athletes as they helped us improve health and educate children in such fun and engaging ways. We are excited to see the Give Kids A Smile program and its collaborative partners continue to grow for years to come.”

Anders planned the event with fellow co-chairs Gentry Lasater, DDS candidate 2015, and Mackenzie Hatfield, DDS candidate 2016, as well as a committee made up primarily of student volunteers.

A unique aspect of the UNC Give Kids a Smile event for the last two years is that it includes a health fair. The volunteers from dentistry were joined by those from the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC School of Nursing, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the UNC volleyball, football and soccer teams to offer a focus on overall health. The multi-station health fair included one station designed to get the children moving, a“Be the Dentist” station where the children dressed like a dentist, and a variety of other stations that shared information on hand washing, the difference in medicine and candy, good nutrition habits, how your body works and tooth brushing.

At the conclusion of the event, volunteers were addressed by School of Dentistry Dean Jane A. Weintraub and also by Dr. Chuck Norman, immediate past president of the ADA. Norman is a 1977 graduate of the school’s DDS program.

The event, which was the second of its kind at the school, was held in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day, a program that began 13 years ago to address and raise awareness of untreated dental disease in children.