As part of its commitment to service events, the UNC School of Dentistry is hosting its sixth annual Give Kids A Smile event to provide free dental care to over 150 local children, aged 2 to 18.
This year, the UNC School of Dentistry is the American Dental Association Foundation’s national kickoff site for the Give Kids A Smile program. The student-led event is on Friday, Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Scott De Rossi, dean of the dentistry school, said he is thrilled to have his school selected as the national kickoff site for this event.
“Each year the American Dental Association Foundation selects a premiere Give Kids A Smile program to host the event,” De Rossi said. “This is the first time we’ve been the national site, so we’re really, really excited to be able to highlight some of the great things that we’re doing every day at UNC, but (especially) on this special day of ensuring oral health and maximizing health for North Carolinians.”
Michael Davis, a third-year dentistry student, was instrumental in the process of applying for the national kickoff site.
“Becoming the national kickoff site was important to us because it served as an opportunity to reach deeper into our communities, to provide so much needed care,” Davis said. “Give Kids A Smile day serves as an opportunity for a health reset for many families, and an opportunity to extend access to care that many families haven’t had the opportunity to receive.”
While this year, Davis serves as chairperson of Give Kids A Smile at UNC, he worked on the treatment side the past two years as a graduate student.
“(This event) is transformative,” Davis said. “I think that you have an opportunity to see how health care can impact families and the difference education makes, especially oral health education, in someone’s longevity of their lives, something that they will take with them well into adulthood.”
Since its launch in 2003, the Give Kids A Smile program has provided more than five million children with access to free oral health care. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children aged 5 to 19 years old from low-income families are twice as likely to have cavities when compared to children from wealthier families. In an effort to improve dental health in lower-income families, the Give Kids A Smile program works to educate children and their families on the importance of early childhood oral health.