This past Friday, the afterschool programs of 21 Dallas Independent School District (DISD) locations were filled not only with the excited laughs and smiles of school children, but of dental care professionals as well.
Approximately 1,100 elementary school age children in afterschool programs were invited to receive free dental screenings and oral care demonstrations as part of Give Kids A Smile®, an American Dental Association (ADA) program that brings dentists and other volunteers together to provide screenings, treatments and education to underserved children throughout the United States. The three hour event was supported by the Dallas County Dental Society (DCDS) Foundation, DISD and the ADA.
“Our mission at the DCDS Foundation is to enhance oral health in our community,” said Rei Iwase, DDS, director for the Foundation and coordinator for the Dallas event. “Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in school-age children, and through GKAS Dallas 2020 we are striving to educate underserved children on prevention of dental disease. Despite Dallas having a long list of low-cost dental clinics, access to dental care is still a serious problem for many in this area.”
The Give Kids A Smile program is held each February across the United States in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month. GKAS events are intended to be touch points for children who do not receive routine dental care. Since its beginning in 2003, more than 5.5 million children have been cared for by more than half a million volunteers.
57 private dentists, 16 hygienists, 24 dental assistants, 52 dental and pre-dental students, plus 11 volunteers from DCDS Alliance and Henry Schein donated their time to provide care at the Dallas 2020 event locations. The children received a free toothbrush, toothpaste and oral health coloring sheets, provided by the DCDS Foundation.
Michael Rainwater, DDS, President of the DCDS Foundation, expressed his appreciation for the event. “It was inspiring to see so many dentists, along with other dental professionals and volunteers unite to promote the importance of dental health for Dallas County kids,” said Dr. Rainwater. “It’s always fun and rewarding to show the positive and welcoming face of dentistry to our youth. DCDS Foundation hosts GKAS as one of many efforts to provide oral health care, focus on prevention and needed dental education.”
Thank you to all of the fantastic volunteers and partners who made the GKAS Dallas 2020 a great day for dental health, including Donna Garcia, DISD Out of School Coordinator; Texas A&M College of Dentistry; and the predental associations at UTD, SMU and UTA. Special thanks go to ADA Foundation, Patterson Dental, Colgate, Burkhart Dental Supply, Midwest Dental Equipment and Supply, GlaxoSmithKline, Henry Schein and Benco Dental for their generous donations. The ADA Foundation also acknowledges additional supporters on their website.