Ohio Dental Association Give Kids A Smile Day! program elicits strong volunteer response
Greater Cleveland Dental Society members join with the Case School of Dental Medicine to help needy kids smile brightly
In response to the Ohio Dental Association’s (ODA) third annual Give Kids A Smile!SM Day Ohio (GKSD), dentists across Ohio are joining together to bring smiles to the faces of needy children in their communities on Friday, February 4. The Cleveland event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine Clinic on Emergency Drive (off Cornell Road).
Volunteer dentists from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society (GCDS) are partnering with Case to serve nearly 150 children from the East Cleveland School District and an estimated 140 children from the Cleveland Boys & Girls Clubs on that day. Members of the dental society, along with the dental school faculty, dental students and others will provide screening, x-rays, cleaning, oral hygiene education and other services to these youth.
In Ohio, an anticipated $746,000 in care and services will be provided to over 33,500 children in underserved areas by nearly 1,600 volunteer dentists and other dental professionals.
Dr. Tom Kelly, past president of the GCDS, is coordinating the Cleveland events for the third consecutive year—and said the response from the local dental community continues to be no surprise. “We all want the best for the children of our community. Our volunteer numbers and community response continues to grow because of one common goal: to bring better oral health and smiles to the faces of children who would otherwise not receive dental care. And we could not have such a strong event without assistance from the folks at Case.”
More than $86,700 in dental services was provided to nearly 275 youth at Case for GKAS! Day last year; overall state figures were in excess of $830,000. The university provided an in-kind donation of approximately $25,000. This year, program coordinators estimate more than $100,000 in donated value for the Cleveland event.
Ronald L. Occhionero, associate dean for administration at Case School of Dental Medicine and past president of the Ohio Dental Association, said that Case is anticipating another banner year for Give Kids a Smile Day, with more than 200 volunteer dentists of the Greater Cleveland Dental Society, the Alliance of the Ohio Dental Association (spouses of the dentists), the dental students, dental assistants and Case staff.
Last year over 250 children were examined by the dental volunteers, received x-rays and had dental sealants placed to help prevent dental decay. The Alliance provided instruction in oral care techniques for home. “It is shocking to note this was the first time some of these children had been exposed to dental care,” Occhionero said, “in a country that prides itself on health care.”
Occhionero stressed that Give Kids a Smile Day along with the Case School Of Dental Medicines´ Cleveland school-wide sealant program supports the University´s focus on being good neighbors to the children of Greater Cleveland.
President of the ODA, Dr. Joe Mellion who will participate at the Cleveland event, said the response from Ohio dentists and other dental volunteers for GKAS! Day has again been overwhelming—but not unexpected. Mellion said Give Kids A Smile! Day is also about education and knowing there is a relationship between good oral health and good general health—and that healthy children are usually happier than children in pain. “When children and their families understand the importance of taking good care of their teeth from infancy, the child is happier and more productive because dental disease and pain is not as rampant. And a pain-free child is certainly better able to function in school and at home.”
The Ohio Dental Association was the 2004 national recipient of the GKAS! Day Scholarship Award presented by the American Dental Association and Crest Healthy Smiles 2010.
About GKSD and sponsors
GKSD is an annual program of the American Dental Association in which dentists and other dental professionals provide oral health care instruction and education and other dental services to children from low-income families. It is expected that thousands of dentists and other dental volunteers throughout the country will participate on this day.
GKAS would not be as successful without support from others in the community. In Cleveland, the program is supported by the Greater Cleveland Dental Society and the Case School of Dental Medicine, with support and assistance from Brennan Financial and Ultradent. At the ODA level, the program is supported by the Ohio Dental Association and its 25 local component societies; a cash donation was also provided by Medical Mutual of Ohio. Nationally, the ADA is supported by Procter & Gamble (Crest Healthy Smiles 2010), Sullivan Schein Dental Supply and Ivoclar Vivadent.
Crest Healthy Smiles 2010 is a national outreach program committed to improving the state of oral hygiene for America's children. Their goal is to reach at least 50 million children with their families in the next six years by providing them with tools, education and access to dental professionals.
The Ohio Dental Association serves 5,400 members in Ohio—approximately 80 percent of Ohio’s practicing dentists. For information on public service programs, oral health issues and dentistry in Ohio, visit www.oda.org – Ohio’s resource for oral health information.
About Case Western Reserve University
Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.