For the twelfth year in a row, the University at Buffalo School
of Dental Medicine saw more than 800 local schoolchildren during
its annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” on Feb. 1.
But something was different this year: “tooth
fairies” were enlisted to help guide the children and their
parents through tours of the dental clinics, the hands-on
activities, the oral hygiene instruction and the award-winning
Teddy Bear Clinic.
In addition to tooth fairies, volunteers numbering in the
hundreds from the UB dental school—faculty, students and
staff—donated their time to provide dental cleanings and
treatment to children who may not receive regular dental care and
who may never have seen a dentist.
The community rolls up its sleeves, too. Erie Community College
and UB’s Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) dental hygiene
students as well as Western New York private dentists give freely
of their time to see local kids get the oral care they need.
Serving the children of Western New York since 1917, UB's dental
clinic is also the “dental home" for more than 50,000 patient
visits throughout the year.
Dignitaries attending the day’s events included Michael
Glick, DMD, professor and dean of the UB dental school; Congressman
Brian Higgins (NY-27); Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale R.
Burstein, MD, and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
In his remarks celebrating the day Higgins said,
“Historically and today, UB has had a profound effect on
health and wellness in Western New York. And the UB dental school
is a leader, especially in giving back to the community.”
Before Mayor Brown proclaimed Feb.1 as “Give Kids a Smile
Day” he said, “I’ve been here every year for this
event and I believe the UB dental school is the best dental school
in the nation because of the health care they provide not just on
this day but on every day of the year.”
Burstein, who mentioned that her father was a UB dental school
alumnus, said, “As a pediatrician, I know that oral health is
an important component of good general health.”
Glick, who has said in previous interviews that oral health
problems are the number one cause of missed school days, praised M.
Dian ChinKit-Wells, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the UB
Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry, for her role in
helping to coordinate the annual day of free dental services
saying, “This is all possible because of Dian’s
extraordinary efforts every year.”
Wells, a 1994 alumna of UB’s dental school, said that this
year UB will continue to see children with more advanced dental
problems on Wednesdays in February.
“As always, every child will leave the UB clinics with a
toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and instruction on how to keep
their teeth healthy,” said Wells.
“For more serious problems, children will either receive
limited restorative dental work or will be scheduled for additional
“By the end of February, we will have worked to find
today’s pediatric patients a dentist in Western New York or
they can continue to come to UB and call us their dental
The event is held as part of National Children’s Dental
Health Month in collaboration with the American Dental Association
(ADA) and the 8 District Dental Society.