The American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation announced its selection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry as the 2019 national kickoff site for Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS), to be held on Friday, February 1. The 2019 event will mark the sixth celebration at the UNC-CH School of Dentistry and the 17th year of the GKAS program.
“The ADA Foundation is excited about the 2019 GKAS national kick-off event being hosted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry,” said Dr. Bill Calnon, ADA Foundation president and interim executive director. “The enthusiasm already portrayed is palpable. This student-led program will provide education and treatment to more than 200 children. It will serve as an example to answer the challenge of UNC leadership to move ‘beyond excellence.’”
Seventeen years ago, two dentists held the first Give Kids A Smile event in a small clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, gathering 15 patient chairs and providing free oral health care to nearly 400 children. The ADA recognized the potential of this event to address the extensive need for oral health care among the millions of children who go without care. In 2003, GKAS became the ADA’s signature access to oral health program for underserved children and extended across the nation. To date, half a million volunteers have provided free oral health care to more than 5.5 million underserved children since then. In 2018 alone, nearly 300,000 children received care at 1,469 events across the country.
At the UNC-CH School of Dentistry, annual events began in 2014 and have always provided more than just free oral health care. Representatives from the UNC-CH School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC-CH Athletics are on hand to create an inclusive health care event for children and families. At the UNC-CH School of Dentistry, nearly 300 patients have received just shy of $40,000 in-kind dental care at GKAS over the last five years.
For some children, this may be their first visit to a dentist, and the more than 200 dental students, residents, faculty and staff at UNC-CH School of Dentistry want to ensure it is a positive one.
“This is an incredible honor for our school, and we are humbled and excited that the ADA Foundation selected our school as its national kickoff site,” said Dean Scott S. De Rossi, DMD, MBA. “Being selected is a tribute to our students, who tirelessly plan, organize and put on this event each year. Give Kids A Smile Day is another example of how our students, residents, staff and faculty passionately serve our community, and I could not be more proud that our school will serve as the national kickoff location in 2019.”
More than 18 million children from low-income families went without dental care, including routine exams, according to the 2014 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment report and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The GKAS program aims to address the need for oral health care across the country, and help families who normally would not be able to afford care, preserve their children’s smiles for their lifetime.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry
The UNC School of Dentistry is transforming dentistry for better health. Founded in 1950, the UNC School of Dentistry was the first dental school in the state and is regarded as a leader in oral health care and education. More than half the dentists in North Carolina are UNC trained, and UNC School of Dentistry alumni live or work in 96 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, all 50 U.S. states and 12 countries. The school sees more than 77,000 patients each year in its clinics and provides care ranging from general needs to complex cases. Consistently ranked in the top 10 for NIH funding, the school strongly supports the University’s research mission. Together, the school’s faculty, staff and students passionately serve their community and field through service within North Carolina totaling more than $4.1 million of in-kind care annually. The ultimate goal of the UNC School of Dentistry is to be the global model for oral health education, in care and discovery. Visit www.dentistry.unc.edu/ to learn more.
Give Kids A Smile
The ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program is one of the world’s largest oral health charitable programs. Launched nationally by the American Dental Association in 2003, Give Kids A Smile is an access-to-care endeavor designed to encourage parents, health professionals, and policymakers to address the year-round need for oral health care and education for all children. Each year the Give Kids A Smile program supports approximately 10,000 dentists, 30,000 dental team members, and other community volunteers in providing free oral health care services including exams, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings, crowns, and extractions, to more than 350,000 children from low-income families across the country. To find out more about Give Kids A Smile, visit www.adafoundation.org/GKAS.