Give Kids A Smile Day expands beyond oral health

By Marcene Robinson republished from UBNow.

Published January 24, 2018

“Dental care is one of this nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs. ”
Stephen Abel, associate dean for student, community, and professional initiatives
School of Dental Medicine

The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine is delivering more than healthy smiles this February.

For its annual Give Kids A Smile Day — a national program dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence of untreated dental disease and teaching children good dental health habits — the School of Dental Medicine will expand its services beyond oral health care to include free services from nurses, dieticians, social workers and audiologists.

With a new focus on overall health, the school will provide more than 250 Western New York schoolchildren with free health screenings and dental treatment, including orthodontic assessments.

Through new partnerships, the program will also offer screenings for hearing loss, guidance on healthy eating, and assistance in determining Medicaid eligibility and in finding a permanent dental home. Nurse practitioners will be available to answer general health questions, and dieticians will provide demonstrations on how to prepare healthy school lunches.

Give Kids A Smile Day, now in its 17th year, will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 3 in Squire Hall, South Campus.

Openings are still available. Children between the ages 2-18 are welcome. To register, call 716-829-2780 or visit ubdental.com.

“Give Kids A Smile Day embodies our commitment to serve and improve the health of our community,” says Stephen N. Abel, associate dean for student, community and professional initiatives in the School of Dental Medicine.

“Dental care is one of this nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs. We also know that poor oral health can significantly impact a child’s ability to perform well in school. This year, we are especially pleased to be able to expand our services to include whole body wellness along with dental care.”

Give Kids A Smile Day is held each February in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month. The event provides needed care to children who may be uninsured or underinsured. Since its inception, the program has treated nearly 10,000 children.

The event is held in partnership with the American Dental Association, New York State Dental Association and the Eighth District Dental Society. The program’s sponsor is Fidelis Care, a health plan that provides quality, affordable health insurance to more than 1.6 million New York State residents.

“As a mission-driven health plan, our dedication to help kids and families access quality, affordable health and dental coverage is a priority, and one that makes our partnership with UB Dental so important during National Children’s Dental Health Month,” says Fidelis Care Chief Marketing Officer Pam Hassen.

“Fidelis Care representatives will be on-site during Give Kids A Smile Day to help residents learn more about their options, and to choose the coverage that’s right for them and their families.”

The program is supported by hundreds of volunteers, including UB dental school faculty, staff and students, as well as private dentists and their staff who donate their time to provide care.

Throughout the day, children will receive oral health exams, cleanings and fluoride treatments, and if needed, X-rays, fillings or extractions. While they wait, kids can enjoy hands-on activities, games, dental videos and oral health instruction from Buffalo Sabres mascot Sabretooth.

New services will be provided through an interprofessional collaboration with UB’s School of Nursing, School of Public Health and Health Professions, and Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences.