Believe it or not, there are children who refuse to smile because they are ashamed of their teeth. Sadly, their parents may be unable to afford dental care. Give Kids A Smile volunteers help turn those frowns turn into smiles! The ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program kicks off on the first Friday in February each year. Then, throughout the year, dentists all across the country gather in hundreds of locations to offer free dental services to children who may not otherwise have access to a dentist. In addition to dentists, other volunteers like dental hygienists and dental assistants also donate their time and talents.
Give Kids A Smile - History
Give Kids A Smile celebrated 15 years of teamwork
The event grew to include 30,000 dental team members working alongside 8,000 dentists to provide free oral health services to children.
Give Kids A Smile went national
Launched by the ADA, Give Kids A Smile focused on the importance of oral health by providing free dental services to millions of poor children.
Two dentists started Give Kids A Smile
Drs. Jeff Dalin and B. Ray Storm, two St. Louis dentists, delivered free dental care to almost 400 children in one day during the first Give Kids A Smile event.
The ancient Chinese brushed their teeth with a toothpaste-like substance
The ancient Chinese used herbal mints, salt, and ginseng to brush their teeth with a substance that had a consistency similar to modern toothpaste.
How to Observe Give Kids A Smile
Contact a participating dentist
With nearly 7,000 dentists taking part in Give Kids A Smile, you can check to see if a program is available near you. Call the GKAS hotline to see if there’s a program in your community where you can make an appointment, or contact your state dental society. Many programs take place in February and throughout the spring. Make sure that your dentist is located close enough to provide ongoing care, because one of the event's goals is to connect children with dentists for regular visits.
Find a location near you
Give Kids A Smile dentists will be working in all kinds of locations. They'll be in community centers, schools, and also in mobile screening vans. The ADA can help you find out if there is a program in your community, and provide contact information for appointments.
Get your child's school involved
Since Give Kids A Smile Day is part of a larger effort to bring dentists into underserved communities, ask your child's school principal if the school can be an event site. See if the principal or school nurse will consider inviting a dentist or dental hygienist to provide oral health education. It's important to get children excited about good oral health! The ADA Foundation offers a GKAS Program Planning Toolbox for those who would like to start a GKAS program.
Chew On These 4 Incredible Facts About Dentistry
It's a crazy choice
Nearly 60 percent of Americans would rather get a dental exam than sit next to someone loudly yakking on a cell phone.
It makes cheese more appealing
Who knew that eating hard cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss can help reduce cavities because of their neutralizing plaque acid properties?
A decayed tooth is different from a cut on your body
Only a dentist can return a decayed tooth to good health since a tooth can’t repair itself.
Your mom was right
Eat more celery, carrots, and apples because these hard, crunchy goodies help to naturally clean your teeth.
Why Give Kids A Smile is Important
It's part of a larger community-focused effort
The American Dental Association (ADA) and the ADA Foundation are committed to helping everyone maintain good oral health, especially in underserved communities. Give Kids A Smile is just one part of a total push for ongoing dental care for all Americans. The ADA also offers a poster and other educational materials for National Children’s Dental Health Month each February.
It offers basic dental care for children
Give Kids A Smile volunteers have provided oral health services to more than 5.5 million children since 2002. Some dentists provide basic pediatric dental care including fillings, extractions, cleanings, and lab work. Others provide oral health education, screenings, and preventive care such as fluoride varnish. There are about 1,500 Give Kids A Smile programs across the country each year. At the end of the program, many happy children leave with free toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and other items.
It's a way for dentists to "pay it forward"
Assembling thousands of dental teams to participate in a volunteer event is a colossal effort – but seeing kids’ healthy smiles makes it all worthwhile. More than 7,000 dentists volunteer their services each year for Give Kids A Smile. Another 25,000 dental team members including hygienists, dental students, and others also participate. Together, they provide oral health services to more than 300,000 kids each year. Volunteers are the heart of Give Kids A Smile!