Each year, the first Friday in February is recognized as Give Kids a Smile Day. During this annual event, the dental instructors and students of Fortis College work alongside volunteer dentists and hygienists to provide free dental services to underserved kids in local communities.
Give Kids a Smile Day, which started in 2002, was the idea of St. Louis dentists Dr. Jeff Dalin and Dr. B. Ray Storm. Wanting to give back to their community, the doctors held the first event in a run-down, soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic with just 15 patient chairs. A grassroots effort, the event provided free dental care to nearly 400 children that day.
The success of this initial effort prompted Dalin to contact the American Dental Association to find out how to build on the momentum and establish an on-going initiative. As a result, in 2003, Give Kids a Smile partnered with the ADA as part of its national effort to raise awareness on the importance of oral health and the need that exists among millions of children who go without care.
ADA now considers Give Kids a Smile an important part of its Action for Dental Health program, a movement that focuses on addressing the nation’s dental health crisis. This program provides essential services such as delivering care to people who are suffering from untreated disease and spreading the message of disease prevention and healthy habits.
Since its inception, Give Kids a Smile has provided clinical care and education to 5.5 million underserved children. Events, which have been held in all 50 states, have been made possible through the help of more than 137,000 dentist and 420,000 volunteers, including dental students.
The urgent need for dental care and education is clear. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in five children age five to eleven have at least one untreated decayed tooth. And, low income is the single best predictor of high cavity experience in children.
The goal of Give Kids A Smile is to provide care for as many underserved children as possible, because every American deserves access to good oral health care. The Give Kids A Smile Day is proof that a simple idea can grow into a national movement.
“It gives me chills to think that millions of children have received care they normally would never have had. They will be able to eat and sleep better, have better self-esteem, do better at school and not be in pain any longer,” said Dr. Dalin. Thanks to Dr. Dalin’s inspirational idea and the generous support of the ADA, Give Kids a Smile has, and will continue to, serve the needs of children across the US – children who would otherwise suffer with untreated dental problems.
Start Your Dental Career
If you want to help kids smile, too, learn more about a career in the important field of dentistry. Schedule a tour at one of our campuses, visit the Dental page on the Fortis website, or call (855) 436-7847 for more information.