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Giving San Francisco kids a smile

San Francisco—The City by the Bay will have some brighter smiles next month.

As part of its Give Kids A Smile initiative, the ADA is collaborating with a number of different agencies and corporations to provide free oral health education and screenings for nearly 2,000 children Oct. 15-17. Two elementary schools and the San Francisco General Hospital Women, Infants and Children program will host the events, which will precede the ADA’s Annual Session.

Image: Give Kids A Smile: Dr. Jeffrey Jang, chair of community dental health, San Francisco Dental Society, pauses for a photo with local kids at a dental screening event. A GKAS screening for 2,000 San Francisco children is planned in conjunction with the ADA Annual Session this month.
Give Kids A Smile: Dr. Jeffrey Jang, chair of community dental health, San Francisco Dental Society, pauses for a photo with local kids at a dental screening event. A GKAS screening for 2,000 San Francisco children is planned in conjunction with the ADA Annual Session this month.

The screenings are a collaboration between the ADA; Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures; the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation; Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit company behind Sesame Street; the San Francisco Department of Public Health; and the San Francisco Dental Society. The SFDS already has an extensive program in place that screens every kindergartner in the San Francisco Public Schools.

“We’re really happy that the ADA approached us to try and help us develop a screening education event that dovetails with what we do here in the city already,” said Dr. Jeffrey Jang, chair of community dental health for the SFDS. “I think it’s a great event because it has to do with dental education and dental awareness among the children, parents and the whole community. But it’s also putting organized dentistry out into the forefront and letting the public know that the San Francisco Dental Society and the ADA and the California Dental Association are the leaders of dental education.”

On Oct. 15, volunteers will be on hand at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School, which has a primarily Chinese American population of around 730 students. ADA dignitaries, including President William Calnon, President-elect Robert Faiella and Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin, will visit E.R. Taylor Elementary School, which also has a primarily Chinese American population of around 790 students, on Oct. 16.

At each of the schools, every student will receive oral health education, and pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, second- and fifth-graders will be screened. Every child will also take home a backpack with a toothbrush and toothpaste donated by Colgate.

Image: Fun to brush: Dr. Jeffrey Jang teaches San Francisco children how to brush at a previous screening event.
Fun to brush: Dr. Jeffrey Jang teaches San Francisco children how to brush at a previous screening event.
The backpack will also contain a Sesame Street DVD featuring Elmo, Abby Cadabby and families modeling healthy behavior, activity sheets for the children and tips for parents. The Sesame Street kit is in both English and Spanish, and the parent tip sheet has been translated into Chinese, said Cynthia Barron, senior project director for educational outreach for Sesame Workshop.

Abby Cadabby will visit San Francisco General Hospital on Oct. 17, where 150-200 families will receive oral education, screenings, fluoride varnish (if applicable) and other treatment as needed through the WIC program. WIC provides federal grants to states for nutrition education and health care referrals.

Representatives from the Native American Health Center will also be available on Oct. 17 to provide treatment for children who qualify.

Through the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile program, more than 400,000 underserved children nationwide receive free dental services. GKAS events take place across the country all year but the program is recognized nationally on the first Friday in February. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the program.