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Feb. 6 is Give Kids A Smile day

Volunteers provide dental care to children from low-income families

With dental disease among pre-schoolers on the rise, the ADA is mobilizing dental professionals in a national campaign to extend necessary care to children and adolescents from low-income families.

On Feb. 6, during the seventh annual Give Kids A Smile program, some 45,000 dental professionals will provide free services to as many as 500,000 children at more than 1,600 sites. St. Louis Cardinal first baseman and National League MVP Albert Pujols has joined with the ADA to support GKAS by starring in a television public service announcement that is featured on the new Give Kids A Smile Web site.

GKAS is the ADA's major oral health outreach program, launched to encourage parents, health professionals and policymakers to address important access to health care issues. GKAS participants will provide educational materials, screenings and, where possible, free dental care such as cleanings, X-rays and fillings.

"There have been enormous advances in dental science in recent years but among America's low-income and minority children, oral health is still a critically unmet health care need," said ADA President John S. Findley. "Though many children will benefit from the services provided through Give Kids A Smile, our concern is for the countless others who continue to suffer from untreated dental disease.

"Oral health is related to overall health and it's important that policymakers strengthen dental provisions in public health programs to help put children on the road to good health," Dr. Findley added.

GKAS events take place during February's National Children's Dental Health Month, through the volunteer efforts of dentists and dental team members and the generous support of corporate sponsors.

In 2009, the Colgate-Palmolive Company will supply 300,000 toothbrushes and 300,000 tubes of toothpaste for GKAS events; DEXIS Digital X-ray will lend one DEXIS Digital X-ray system and support staff to each participating U.S. dental school; Henry Schein Dental will provide professional dental kits containing gloves, masks, patient bibs, dental floss, prophy paste and fluoride products.

Watch ADA News Today on ADA.org for on-site coverage of GKAS events beginning Feb. 6.