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Give Kids A Smile events kick off today

February 03, 2017

By David Burger

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile program, and dental professionals from coast to coast are mobilizing to provide free oral health services to 300,000 children and adolescents from underserved families.

The national Give Kids A Smile kickoff event will take place today at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in Newark, New Jersey. The event will be preceded by leaders from the ADA, ADA Foundation and sponsors ringing the opening bell at the Nasdaq stock market in Times Square.

Watch ADA News on and the Feb. 20 print edition of ADA News for coverage.

Give Kids A Smile has become the world's largest children's oral health charitable program and an access-to-care endeavor designed to encourage parents, caregivers, health professionals and policymakers to address the year-round need for oral health care for all children.

Since 2003, GKAS volunteers have provided dental services to more than five and a half million underserved children.

The ADA launched the national Give Kids A Smile program in 2003 as a way for dentists to join with others in the community to provide dental services to underserved children. The program, now administered by the ADA Foundation, initially began as a one-day event in February, but has since grown to include local and national events year-round. Give Kids A Smile began in 2002 as a single volunteer event that provided oral health services to about 400 kids in St. Louis, Missouri.

Promoting smiles: The national Give Kids A Smile kickoff event at Rutgers University in New Jersey was preceded the night before, Feb. 2, with the Give Kids A Smile 15th Anniversary Reception, held at the Harvard Club of New York City. From left: Dr. Bill Calnon, ADA Foundation president; Dr. Gary Roberts, ADA president; Dr. Jeff Dalin, GKAS co-founder; Candy Ross, director of industry and professional relations for KaVo Kerr; Dr. Sid Whitman, chair of the New Jersey Oral Health Coalition; Dr. David Krol, New Jersey Oral Health Coalition; Michelle Penrose, director of professional affairs for Henry Schein and chair of the GKAS National Advisory Committee; Dr. Barbara Shearer, director of scientific affairs for Colgate; and Steve Kess, vice president of global professional relations for Henry Schein.
Through GKAS, dentists and other dental team members volunteer their time and services to provide free oral health education, screenings, preventive care and treatment to underserved children throughout the United States. Each year, about 300,000 underserved children benefit from 1,300 Give Kids A Smile events, all because of the efforts of more than 40,000 annual volunteers.

The Foundation's national Give Kids A Smile program would not be possible without thousands of dedicated volunteers and the continued support of a host of sponsors including Henry Schein, Colgate and KaVo Kerr.

For more information about Give Kids A Smile, and to see a complete list of sponsoring companies, visit the GKAS page and for the latest news, visit the GKAS Facebook page and follow the ADA on Twitter. To tag or follow GKAS social media posts, use the hashtag #GKAS.