Campus News

Give Kids A Smile Day shifts focus to total health care

child raising his hand as he has his hearing tested during Give Kids a Smile Day.

A child has his hearing tested last year during Give Kids A Smile Day. The focus of the event has shifted from dental care to comprehensive health care. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published January 23, 2020

For one day in February, the corridors of Squire Hall, home of the School of Dental Medicine, will be filled with the excited laughter and smiles of schoolchildren.

During Give Kids A Smile Day on Feb. 7, students, faculty and staff of the dental school will welcome hundreds of Western New York children who lack access to dental care to the school to receive free oral health screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, X-rays, extractions, wisdom teeth removal and consultations for braces.

The children will also receive free hearing and eye exams, and view brief demonstrations on healthy eating from nutritionists and dieticians.

Give Kids A Smile Day is part of a national program dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence of untreated dental disease and teaching children good dental health habits.

Now in its 19th year at UB, the event continues to grow in scope and effort, shifting in focus from dental to comprehensive health care with the support of hundreds of volunteers from across disciplines. To date, UB has treated more than 10,000 children through the program.

“Once again, we are glad to open our doors to the community and care for children with unmet dental needs,” says Stephen N. Abel, associate dean for student, community and professional initiatives in the School of Dental Medicine. “UB students, faculty, staff and alumni will join community health care providers to provide the highest quality care to everybody on that day.”

Give Kids A Smile Day will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 7 in Squire Hall on the South Campus. All children between the ages of 1-18 are welcome.

Space is limited. To register, use the online appointment form or call 716-829-2780.

The program is held each February in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month. The event provides needed care to families who may be uninsured or underinsured.

The School of Dental Medicine will provide transportation to attend the program for hundreds of children from schools in Western New York.

The event is supported by more than 300 volunteers, including UB dental school faculty, staff and students, as well as private dentists and optometrists and their staff who donate their time to provide care.

The school will also be supported by faculty and staff in the Department of Communicative Disorders, College of Arts and Sciences, who will offer hearing screenings; the School of Public Health and Health Professions, who will provide information on healthy eating from nutritionists and dietitians; the School of Nursing, who will offer consultations to parents on medical conditions; and the School of Social Work, who will assist families in identifying a family dentist.

“The Give Kids A Smile event is an opportunity for various health care disciplines from the university to come together to provide care to the community in an interprofessional setting,” says Joseph Gambacorta, associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Dental Medicine.

Staff from Fidelis Care will be on hand to assist families with determining Medicaid eligibility, and optometrists from Visionworks will provide free eye exams. 

All children will receive a free lunchbox, toothbrush, floss and toothpaste. While they wait for their appointments, kids can enjoy games and hands-on activities.

Give Kids A Smile Day is held in partnership with the American Dental Association, New York State Dental Association and the Eighth District Dental Society. The program’s principle sponsor is Fidelis Care.