February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, ADA’s National ‘Give Kids A Smile®’ Kicks Off 10th Anniversary Celebration
February 01, 2012
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CHICAGO, Feb. 1, 2012— The American Dental Association (ADA) shines a light on dental health for children during February, marking the 10th anniversary of its Give Kids A Smile program as well as its annual National Children’s Dental Health Month.
A decade of mobilizing dental volunteers
The ADA’s national Give Kids A Smile® program kicks off Friday, Feb. 3, with dental professionals across the nation mobilizing to provide free dental care to approximately 450,000 children and adolescents from underserved families throughout year.
Give Kids A Smile is the ADA’s signature oral health access program designed to encourage parents, health professionals and policymakers to address the year-round need for oral health care for all children. Each year, thousands of the nation's dentists and their dental team members provide free oral health care services to children from low-income families across the country.
"The ADA thanks and celebrates all of the dentists and dental team members who donate their time to host or participate in Give Kids A Smile programs, but we all know that the real celebration can’t begin until the epidemic of untreated dental disease is cured," said ADA President Dr. William R. Calnon. "More than 16 million children have tooth decay, which is 16 million too many. The ADA and state dental societies will continue to advocate for policymakers to allocate adequate funding to provide dental services to children in need through Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Programs."
Some 80 percent of tooth decay in this country is suffered by 25 percent of its children, according to the National Institutes of Health. For every child younger than 18 years old without medical insurance, there are at least two children without dental insurance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet state Medicaid budgets allocate 2% or less for dental services, according to the ADA.
The Give Kids A Smile program first began in the Greater St. Louis area by a couple of dentists who set up a temporary full-service clinic that provided free treatment for nearly 400 underserved children over two days in February 2002. The ADA took the program national in 2003.
The ADA’s national Give Kids A Smile program would not be possible without volunteers and continued generous support of sponsors Henry Schein Dental, which donated professional dental products, Colgate-Palmolive Co., which donated consumer dental products, and DEXIS, LLC, which donated the use of their digital X-ray systems along with the expertise of their staff to assist dental schools, state dental associations and large group dental practices requesting assistance with their Give Kids A Smile events.
For more information about Give Kids A Smile, visit the GKAS website, and for the latest news, visit the GKAS Facebook page.
Showcasing good habits and care
The ADA created National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) to raise awareness about the importance of good dental health for all children, youth and teens.
"The ADA reminds parents and caregivers about the importance of good oral hygiene habits not only in February, but all year long," said Dr. Calnon. "National Children’s Dental Health Month is an opportunity for the ADA to highlight the importance of optimum oral health while providing resources for dentists, dental team members, teachers, school nurses and other advocates to spread this important message."
This year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month poster features the campaign's slogan "ROCK YOUR SMILE." The ADA offers free downloadable oral health resources for dentists, dental team members, school nurses and teachers to provide fun tools to promote the benefits of good oral health to children. The program planning guide includes easy-to-do classroom activities, program planning timetable tips and much more. The ADA’s messages and materials have reached millions of people in communities across the country.
The ADA urges parents and caregivers to make sure their children brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, eat a balanced diet and see their dentist regularly to address tooth decay in its earliest stages. For more information about NCDHM, please visit NCHDM.
2012 Give Kids A Smile by the numbers:
- Volunteer dentists and teams: 40,000
- Children served with free or discounted care: about 450,000 annually
- Number of Give Kids A Smile sites: nearly 1,600
- 25 percent of children suffer 80 percent of tooth decay
Editors: Most Give Kids A Smile events require advanced registration, usually through schools and social service clubs and agencies. For more information, visit Give Kids A Smile.