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Give Kids A Smile event warms the heart at college dental hygiene program

By David Burger

Glen Ellyn, Ill. — Barb Czahor had personal reasons for why she was at a Give Kids A Smile charity event.

When Ms. Czahor, associate professor in the dental hygiene program at the College of DuPage, was a child, her braces were removed — and no fewer than 13 caries littered her mouth.

Prevention was not as emphasized then as it is now, Ms. Cazhor said. Now, with events such as GKAS focused on education as well as examinations, they “hopefully ensure the continued emphasis on prevention from the cradle to the grave,” she said.


Prevention: Dental hygiene student Rachel Ponsolle flosses the teeth of Nolee Torson, 11, at the College of DuPage’s Give Kids A Smile charity event on Feb. 1.

Twenty school-aged children braved the single-digit temperatures as the college held its second annual GKAS event as the now-infamous polar vortex — otherwise known as Winter Storm Jayden — was winding down after it battered the Midwest with historic icy wind chills that even normally nonchalant Illinoisans called nightmarish.

The temperatures Feb. 1 were downright balmy compared to the previous two days, when the entire college located 25 miles west of downtown Chicago closed down due to the cold. Much of the area has suffered from temperatures that were more than 20 below, not counting the wind chill.

But the college opened bright and early Feb. 1, for its first appointments at 8 a.m., with 40 students in the dental hygiene program taking part. Free of charge, the children received, as needed, X-rays, exams, cleanings, fluoride and sealant applications and education on how to keep their teeth caries-free.

Two volunteer dentists were on hand to oversee the day’s event, which featured stuffed animals around the office to soothe the young children’s apprehensions.

“I love it,” said Dr. Edward Chavez. “There’s a big need for those who can’t afford dental care.”


Having fun: Lillyana Rodriguez, 5, a patient at the College of DuPage’s Give Kids A Smile charity event on Feb. 1, grins for the camera before the application of sealants.

He said that his nearby practice in Wheaton had to close the day before because the heater broke, but he was happy to participate in GKAS despite the week’s hassles.

“I’m trying to give back to the community,” Dr. Chavez said. “The community has been very good to me.”

While Feb. 1 was the official national kickoff day for GKAS — which can take place any time of the year — the dental hygiene program’s dedication to young children in need of care didn’t end at the close of the day. In honor of February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, the dental hygiene students planned on visiting more than 1,000 children in local schools to spread their education campaign that month, said Lori J. Drummer, professor and program coordinator in the dental hygiene program.

The College of DuPage’s GKAS event is one of 1,516 GKAS events around the country that have registered with the ADA Foundation this year, with nearly 350,000 children expected to be served by more than 64,000 volunteers, 6,745 of them dentists.

Through the ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile program, launched nationally by the American Dental Association in 2003, more than 5.5 million underserved children have received free oral health services.

The continued success of the Give Kids A Smile program would not be possible without the support of corporate supporters who have provided vast amounts in funding, products and services through the years, including Henry Schein, Inc., exclusive provider of professional dental products; Colgate, the exclusive provider of consumer dental products; and KavoKerr, providing the use of X-ray systems and personnel, as requested and available, to assist in taking radiographs during GKAS events.

A complete list of GKAS supporters is available at

To donate to the ADA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, visit