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Give Kids A Smile Day to offer more than a healthy smile: Shifts to total health for hundreds of WNY kids

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Mon, Jan 20th 2020 11:25 am
Now in its 19th year at UB, the event continues to grow in scope and effort, shifting in focus from dental to comprehensive health care. (University at Buffalo photo)
Now in its 19th year at UB, the event continues to grow in scope and effort, shifting in focus from dental to comprehensive health care. (University at Buffalo photo)

By the University at Buffalo

For one day in February, the halls of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine will be filled with the excited laughs and smiles of schoolchildren.

The event, Give Kids A Smile Day, will welcome hundreds of Western New York children who lack access to dental care to receive free oral health screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, x-rays, extractions, wisdom teeth removal and consultations for braces.

The children will also receive free hearing and eye exams, and brief demonstrations on healthy eating from nutritionists and dieticians.

Give Kids A Smile Day is part of a national program dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence of untreated dental disease and teaching children good dental health habits.

Now in its 19th year at UB, the event continues to grow in scope and effort, shifting in focus from dental to comprehensive health care with the support of hundreds of volunteers from across disciplines. To date, UB has treated more than 10,000 children through the program.

“Once again, we are glad to open our doors to the community and care for children with unmet dental needs,” said Stephen N. Abel, D.D.S., associate dean for student, community and professional initiatives in the School of Dental Medicine. “UB students, faculty, staff and alumni will join community health care providers to provide the highest quality care to everybody on that day.”

Give Kids A Smile Day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, in Squire Hall, 3435 Main St., on the South Campus. All children between the ages of 1-18 are welcome.

Space is limited. To register, use the online appointment form or call 716-829-2780.

The program is held each February in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month. The event provides needed care to families who may be uninsured or underinsured.

The School of Dental Medicine will provide transportation for hundreds of children to attend the program from schools in Western New York.

The event is supported by more than 300 volunteers, including UB dental school faculty, staff and students, as well as private dentists and optometrists and their staff who donate their time to provide care.

The school will also be supported by the department of communicative disorders in the UB College of Arts and Sciences to offer hearing screenings, the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions to provide information on healthy eating from nutritionists and dietitians, the School of Nursing to offer consultations to parents on medical conditions, and the School of Social Work to assist families in identifying a family dentist.

“The Give Kids A Smile event is an opportunity for various health care disciplines from the university to come together to provide care to the community in an interprofessional setting,” said Joseph Gambacorta, associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Dental Medicine.

Fidelis Care will be on hand to assist families with determining Medicaid eligibility, as well as optometrists from Visionworks to provide free eye exams. 

All children will receive a free lunchbox, toothbrush, floss and toothpaste. While they wait for their appointments, kids can enjoy games and hands-on activities.

Give Kids A Smile Day is held in partnership with the American Dental Association, New York State Dental Association and the Eighth District Dental Society. The program’s principle sponsor is Fidelis Care.

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