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Give Kids A Smile kicks off Feb. 1

January 29, 2019

By Kelly Ganski

Hundreds of thousands of children from coast to coast will receive free oral health services beginning Feb. 1 as they take part in the ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile program.

Image of GKAS logoMore than 5.5 million children have received free oral health services through Give Kids A Smile since the program's national launch in 2003. In 2019 alone, more than 300,000 children in need across the U.S. will receive free oral health services from 6,300 volunteer dentists and 57,000 other dental team and community volunteers at more than 1,400 GKAS events.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry will host the ADA Foundation's 2019 Give Kids A Smile national kickoff event Feb. 1. About 200 local children will receive free dental exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, extractions, fluoride, sealants, X-rays and oral health education.   

"This is an incredible opportunity for our school to passionately serve our people, field, and community by providing oral health care to an underserved population," said Dr. Scott De Rossi, dean. "Our students, residents, faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that each child and their family has a terrific experience at Give Kids A Smile. I'm extremely proud of all of them for their dedication to making this event a success."

GKAS events range from those that provide free services to hundreds of children in a day, to individual dentists providing pro-bono oral health services and a dental home to one or several children under the GKAS banner.

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.

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.

"Give Kids A Smile is a clear demonstration of the positive outcome of all aspects of the profession working together," said Dr. William R. Calnon, president of the ADA Foundation. "North Carolina University's 2019 Give Kids A Smile program is a perfect example of volunteers using skills and talents to generate better health outcomes for kids. We admire the obvious passion in this project."

The national kickoff would not be possible without the support of its sponsors, including Henry Schein, Inc., Colgate, and KaVo Kerr. A complete list of Give Kids A Smile corporate supporters is available on the ADA Foundation's website.

"Team Schein has long supported oral health professionals who share our commitment to expanding access to care for children in need, and we are pleased to join our supplier partners in supporting the Give Kids A Smile program once again," said Stanley M. Bergman, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Henry Schein. "It is rewarding to have played a role in setting millions of children on the path to a lifetime of good oral health, and by extension overall health. We thank the thousands of volunteers across the country, and the team participating at the University of North Carolina, for their generosity in working to safeguard children's health."

For more information about how Give Kids A Smile programs are organized across the country, visit ADAFoundation.org/gkas. For more information about Give Kids A Smile programs taking place in your area, call Give Kids A Smile at 1-844-490-GKAS (4527) or contact your state or local dental association. The ADA Foundation's website, ADAFoundation.org, offers additional resources to help find free or reduced-cost dental care for children.
 
Give Kids A Smile is also the anchor event of the ADA's National Children's Dental Health Month. To learn about mouth healthy habits, visit MouthHealthy.org, which features fun quizzes, slideshows, videos and articles about dental health topics for every age and stage of life.