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ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile day at UIC puts kids on course to good oral health

September 20, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Taking a look: St. Malachy kindergarteners check out the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion race car on display for them during the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day at UIC.
The thunderous vrooooom of the revving engine startled the elementary school students, but not for long.

Only moments later, they rushed over to see and touch the source: an 800-horsepower, 3,300-pound race car—usually driven by NASCAR star Greg Biffle—brought to them Sept. 12 courtesy of the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry.

Before seeing the car, the students received free dental treatment and goody bags with oral care supplies, had their faces painted and mingled with the Tooth Fairy; Deebo the 3M No. 16 race team mascot; and Flossie, the Chicago Dental Society mascot.

Meanwhile, Dr. Indru Punwani, UIC professor emeritus and past department head for pediatric dentistry, welcomed an assortment of supporters of the dental school's access to care efforts, including Give Kids A Smile, the ADA's premier access-to-care program.

Race car: Dr. Indru Punwani, UIC professor emeritus and past department head for pediatric dentistry, poses with St. Malachy students in front of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion race car on display during the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day at UIC.
“We've sponsored these Give Kids A Smile days annually for the last 11 years to acknowledge and draw attention to the very serious lack of access to oral health care for children from underserved families in Illinois,” Dr. Punwani said.

The ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile day was the second that UIC College of Dentistry hosted in 2013, having put on a GKAS day in February. Dental students, pediatric dental residents and dental school faculty treat children daily in the UIC pediatric dental clinic and at GKAS day events.

The event preceded a Sept. 15 race at the Chicagoland Speedway; NASCAR star and GKAS Ambassador Greg Biffle drove the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion for the GEICO 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Dr. Bruce Graham, dean, UIC College of Dentistry, thanked supporters who turned out for the day and addressed how UIC approaches access-to-care issues at the dental school, including through GKAS.

“What we're dramatizing today with this event and with providing screenings for 100 children is an important symbol,” Dr. Graham said. “But it is a very small snippet of what goes on in this college and outside of this college in our community-based clinics all around northern Illinois. We provide care, just in our college clinic, for 10,000 children every year. We think it's critically important that our students as part and parcel of their clinical education as future dentists serve underserved children and adults as well.

“We want them to know that as health care professionals in this state and in this country, they have to accept and discharge the responsibility of caring for people who can't care for themselves. So we're very pleased that we have this opportunity.”

Interaction: Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch, ADA 8th District trustee, chats with a St. Malachy elementary school student as dental student Nisha Mehta looks on during the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day at UIC.

New face: Dr. Patrick Whittington, chief resident in the UIC College of Dentistry, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, turns 5-year-old Montay Carrol, a student at St. Malachy, into Spiderman at the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day at UIC.
Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch, ADA 8th District trustee, represented the ADA at UIC for the ADA/NASCAR Give Kids A Smile Day. He cited the GKAS program's most telling numbers: 1,800 Give Kids A Smile events each year around the country; about 10,000 participating dentists and 40,000 ancillary staff, treating young patients around the nation in dental schools, private offices, hygiene schools and other settings.

“Starting in 2011, the program was expanded to include oral health screenings and education at the NASCAR events around the country with the help of 3M,” Dr. Hagenbruch said. “Many of these events even go so far as going out to schools and reaching out there.”

Dr. Hagenbruch, too, extended the ADA's gratitude to GKAS supporters, including UIC College of Dentistry, which is celebrating its centennial in 2013.

“I would like to thank the sponsors, 3M, for example, who sponsors the No. 16 3M racecar,” Dr. Hagenbruch said. “We'd like to thank CareCredit; Henry Schein Cares; the American Dental Association Foundation; Church & Dwight, who makes the Spinbrushes that we hand out at the NASCAR events; the Chicago Dental Society; and the Illinois State Dental Society for this opportunity. I want to thank again UIC and congratulate them on 100 years.”

UIC and GKAS supporters and guests included Dr. Michael Redding, executive associate chancellor of external and governmental relations, office of the chancellor, UIC; Jaime Dirksen, deputy commissioner for the office of performance and quality improvement and office of adolescent and school health, Chicago Department of Public Health; Dr. Jaewon Ryu, associate vice president for professional practice and chief medical officer, office of the vice president for health affairs, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System;

Dr. Benjamin Van Vorhees, associate professor of pediatrics and chief, division of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine; Henry Taylor, chief executive officer, UIC Mile Square Health Center; Dr. Susan Becker Doroshow, secretary of the board, Chicago State Dental Society; Dr. Edward Segal, vice president, Illinois State Dental Society; Jan Silverman, assistant director, Pediatric Oral Health Research & Policy Center, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; Dr. Sahar Alrayyes, immediate past president, Illinois Society of Pediatric Dentists; Omayra Giachello, regional health officer, division of oral health, office of health promotion, Illinois Department of Public Health; Dr. Frank Maggio, board chair, Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation; John Stefanick, director, industry and professional relations, 3M ESPE Dental Division; and Joanie Rosen, health program coordinator, St. Malachy School.