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'Plan B' for Smile Kentucky! GKAS

Ice storm can't chill enthusiasm for national event

February 18, 2013

By Stacie Crozier, ADA News staff

Louisville gathering: University of Louisville dental school Dean John Sauk and ADA President Robert A. Faiella (right) laud Smile Kentucky! volunteers at Louisville's Muhammad Ali Center Jan. 31 in anticipation of the Feb. 1 Give Kids A Smile event at the Ali Center, which was postponed because of inclement weather.

Jan. 31 reception: Guests enjoy Louisville pure tap water at a Smile Kentucky!/GKAS reception.
Louisville, Ky.—Just days after icy streets and frigid temperatures in the greater Louisville, Ky., area postponed the Smile Kentucky!/Give Kids A Smile clinic at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Feb. 1, volunteers stepped up to reschedule dental education, screenings and treatment for 300 children from 23 area schools.

On Jan. 31, ADA President Robert A. Faiella was on hand to help shine a national spotlight on the successful access to care program and joined about 200 volunteers, sponsors and donors for a reception at Louisville's Muhammad Ali Center.

With a breathtaking view of the cityscape along the Ohio River, guests learned more about Smile Kentucky! and Give Kids A Smile from a variety of speakers including Dr. Faiella; Dr. Dennis Price, Louisville Dental Society; UofL Dean John J. Sauk; UofL Provost Shirley Willihnganz; Jan Myskowski, DEXIS; Tim Sullivan, Henry Schein Dental; and Linda Nason, Bullitt County Schools.

State-of-the-art: Dr. Margaret Hill, associate dean for postgraduate education, shows ADA President Robert A. Faiella the UofL dental school's new simulators.
“It was 11 years ago when the American Dental Association first began celebrating Give Kids A Smile day, and I congratulate the University of Louisville and Smile Kentucky! for being part of that history,” Dr. Faiella told the group. “Over the past 11 years, Give Kids A Smile has become the world's largest oral health charitable program and the American Dental Association's signature access to care endeavor. Our activities highlight for policymakers the ongoing challenges that disadvantaged families face in finding dental care and the need to improve public policy. I congratulate all of you for your hard work and dedication, not only today, but every time you provide care for a child in need.”

On Feb. 7, about 60 children from Trimble County Schools and Louisville's English as a second language Shawnee Newcomer Academy participated in the first of a half-dozen alternate treatment days at the UofL dental school clinic.

Dr. Bobby Elliott, a UofL alumnus and adjunct clinical faculty member, and a pediatric dentist in Cary, N.C., was there to volunteer.

UofL tour: ADA President Robert A. Faiella chats with Dr. Theresa G. Mayfield, associate dean for clinical affairs.
“This was one of my regular days at UofL, so it was a perfect time for me to volunteer for the Smile Kentucky!/Give Kids A Smile event,” Dr. Elliott said. “This first clinic went off without a hitch. It really speaks to the amazing partnership in the community that they could organize a 'plan B' in less than a week.”

Dr. Elliott said the Smile Kentucky! program is a great example of community partnership.

“The program is so well connected with more than a hundred partners to make sure that area children get the dental care they need,” he said. “It's a great program and I was very excited to be a part of it this year.”

Launched in 2002, Smile Kentucky is a cooperative effort with a goal to improve Louisville-area children's oral health. Founding organizations include Louisville Water, Louisville Dental Society, UofL School of Dentistry, Colgate, Sullivan Schein Dental, Northwest Area Health Education Center and Bullitt County Health Department.

Today, 14 agencies serve on the Smile Kentucky! Steering Committee and more than 150 groups provide time, materials and funding.

In the past decade, Smile Kentucky! volunteers have provided 130,000 elementary schoolchildren in 12 counties with dental education; 39,000 with dental screenings at school; and 3,000 children have received free treatment valued at more than $1 million. The education program is now part of a statewide effort.

Make-up day: Dr. Adam Snyder, a pediatric resident at UofL School of Dentistry, treats a child from Louisville's Shawnee Newcomer Academy Feb. 7 at the first of several rescheduled Smile Kentucky!/Give Kids A Smile clinics.
“One of our top goals in Louisville is to create a much healthier city for people of all ages, no matter their background or where they live,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “Making meaningful progress takes entrepreneurial thinking and strong public-private partnerships. Led by our own Louisville Water, Smile Kentucky! has been a world-class model of collaboration.”

With a translator on hand Feb. 6, Dr. Elliott treated several Spanish-speaking children.

“Even though my last Spanish course was in high school, we didn't have any problems with communication,” he joked. “A lot of Smile Kentucky! patient education material is also bilingual, so it was smooth sailing.”

Dr. Elliott also celebrates GKAS and National Children's Dental Health Month at his North Carolina dental practice, Cary Pediatric Dentistry.

“It's my 15th year in practice,” he said. “After 10 years, I partnered with Dr. Julie Molina and we have a staff of 12—a team that truly loves children. We always participate in GKAS, and we can always tell that our community's teachers are on board with NCDHM, because our patients come in talking about what they've learned in school. It's great. Getting a chance to pay it forward through programs like this doesn't just help kids. It really gives volunteers a great feeling.”

Organizers have set up five more smaller-scale treatment clinics in February and March at the dental school and several volunteer dentists will also treat some of the children in their offices during the next few weeks.

“In its 11-year history, we've never had to cancel our February treatment event before,” said Kelley Dearing Smith, strategic communications manager for Louisville Water and a coordinator for the annual Smile Kentucky! event. “But early in the morning Feb. 1, after they learned that all area schools would be closed, volunteer dentists were already calling with offers to treat children in their offices. We will just be creative about how to reach all the children as soon as possible.”

Although no children were able to come to UofL on Feb. 1, Dean Sauk and several of his staff were still on hand to give Dr. Faiella a tour of the newly renovated dental school.
The 2½-year, $44-million renovation has reinforced the dental school's mission to be a community partner, Dr. Sauk said.

“The students and local residents both benefit from our state-of-the-art facility,” said Dr. Sauk. “Students are giving back to the community and gaining satisfaction that they can increase the level of oral health literacy in the community and diminish dental fear in younger patients.”

The Louisville event is just one in the national Give Kids A Smile initiative, a signature program of the ADA. At press time, 10,086 dentists and 31,551 other volunteers will provide free oral health services to 403,102 underserved children at 1,764 programs across the nation in 2013.

“The success of Smile Kentucky! and other ADA Give Kids A Smile programs around the country underscore the power of public-private partnership,” said Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman and CEO of Henry Schein Inc. “Together we have made important strides in narrowing the wide gap in access to oral health care that exists in this country, but there is much work to be done. We must remain laser focused in helping Give Kids A Smile fulfill its mission of eliminating cavities in U.S. 5-year-olds by 2020.”

Give Kids A Smile is made possible by the volunteer efforts of dentists, dental team members and the generous support of corporate sponsors. Sponsor Henry Schein Dental provides professional dental supplies such as gloves, gauze, masks and patient bibs; sponsor Colgate-Palmolive Co., donates toothbrushes and toothpaste for children at the events; and sponsor DEXIS LLC, donates the use of its digital X-ray systems, along with the expertise of its staff for dental schools, organizations and large group practices requesting assistance.

View a brief Smile Kentucky! video on the ADA Facebook page. There is also a feature on

Visit ADA News for more ADA News GKAS coverage from across the country. Follow GKAS on Twitter at #gkas or #givekidsasmile.