On Friday, the UNC Adams School of Dentistry hosted Give Kids A Smile Day. The event, aimed at increasing accessibility and awareness for dental care, provided free dental exams, cleanings and oral health education for over 180 underserved children in North Carolina.
If a child has dental pain, he or she might not do well in school, might not thrive and could have lower self-esteem, said Jessica Lee, chairperson of pediatric and public health at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. Lee said preventing these risks from dental issues is a key reason for hosting Give Kids a Smile Day.
The project was largely planned by the UNC dental students who participated in the hands-on pediatric care event for children who do not typically have access to health care.
On Give Kids A Smile Day, the students focused on making the day engaging and educational for children by giving out free electric toothbrushes and encouraging kids to smile for a picture with Rameses.
“Early intervention is so important, especially with children,” clinic co-chairperson and UNC dental surgery major Samantha Glover said. “It's so nice to be able to give them a positive experience at the dentist, which we're hoping to do here, and also be able to increase access to care.”
Lee said the event has evolved from offering checkups and cleanings to providing comprehensive care and performing extraction and crown procedures to alleviate pain.
“We have gone through the whole breadth of dental services we provide for children at no cost to them,” she said.
Caylen Bost, a dental student and another co-chairperson of the clinic, said the overall goal is to provide more than just one day of free health care for these families, since finding dental care can be difficult.
Bost also said hosting events like Give Kids A Smile Day offers necessary resources to those who have little financial flexibility.