The first Friday of February is when we turn those frowns upside down and begin the Give Kids A Smile program. The initiative, created by the American Dentist Association (ADA), is an opportunity for kids who can’t normally afford to see a dentist to get some free dental care. Dentists, as well as dental hygienists, assistants, and other volunteers, use their time and talents to ensure that children are given the dental care they need and deserve all across the country.
History of Give Kids A Smile
The Give Kids A Smile program was created by the American Dentist Association in 2003. It was a way for dentists to come together with their communities to provide dental services such as oral health, education, screenings, preventive health, and treatment to children in families in the U.S. who cannot afford it.
The event initially started out as a one-day event in February but has since grown into a national event annually. Almost one in four children under five already have cavities and 10 million children under the age of 18 receive no dental care. Give Kids A Smile remains an important part of the ADA’s Action for Dental Health. Their mission is to end any dental health problems in America by providing care to everyone, especially those who need it the most.
Give Kids A Smile timeline
A Need For Dental Service
More than 181 million Americans didn’t visit a dentist, according to the ADA.
15 Years of Collaboration
Give Kids A Smile grew to 30,000 dental team members and 8,000 dentists.
Give Kids A Smile becomes a nationwide program, collaborating with the ADA, Henry Schein, Procter & Gamble, and DEXIS.
The Beginning of It All
Drs. Jeff Dalin and B. Ray Storm held the first-ever Give Kids a Smile event in St. Louis, Missouri.
Give Kids A Smile FAQs
How many people are involved in Give Kids A Smile?
Every year GKAS supports about 10,000 dentists, 30,000 dental team members, 350,000 children, as well as community volunteers.
What is Give Kids A Smile’s impact today?
Today, GKAS is the ADA Foundation’s access to oral healthcare for low-income children through events during the year. During these events, children have access to treatments, screenings, and oral health education.
How can people find out about GKAS events in their state?
To find GKAS events in your state, contact your local or state dental society as well as contacting the ADA through the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Observe Give Kids A Smile
Become a volunteer
Search the GKAS website or call the hotline to find volunteer opportunities in your community around Give Kids A Smile events. With the thousands of dental teams that are always welcoming volunteers, your help can make a huge difference in a child’s life.
Post GKAS photos, stories, and messages to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag.
Celebrate Give Kids A Smile by printing out and sharing the logo with your friends and family to create awareness around the national events. Logos can be found on the GKAS Facebook page.
Five Facts About Give Kids A Smile
It’s a huge success
Since its national launch in 2003, more than 5.5 million children have received free oral health services through Give Kids A Smile.
February is just a celebratory month! Just as Give Kids A Smile begins on the first Friday of February it turns out February is also the ADA’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.
It’s worldly known
Give Kids A Smile is one of the world’s largest oral health charitable programs.
First held event
The first GKAS event was held in a run-down soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic, where only 15 patient chairs were available for nearly 400 children.
Oral health matters
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cavities are the most prevalent infectious disease in children in the U.S. More than 40% of infants and preschoolers are affected by the time they’re in kindergarten and about half of all children from lower-income families.
Why We Love Give Kids A Smile
Oral health is important
Everyone deserves to have access to oral health. Imagine if you were a child who couldn’t brush your teeth every day or if you had a never-ending aching toothache because of a cavity. How much would it hurt to not be able to do anything about it? Everyone, especially children, deserves access to dental care and dental health.
It takes a village
Without the countless number of dentists as well as their teams and volunteers dedicating their effort and time to this event, Give Kids A Smile would not be possible.
Dental care is the most unmet health need among American children. A child should not have to suffer at the hands of their family not being able to afford dental care; it is important to provide access to dental services to children in need.