COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 19 Dentists throughout Ohio will once again reach into their communities to help underserved children receive needed dental services for free through Give Kids a Smile.
February 5 is the official date for the eighth annual GKAS program at which dentists join with their peers nationally to educate, screen and/or treat children in need of dental care for free. However, GKAS has grown to "more than just a day." In Ohio, over 2,000 dentists and other volunteers will provide free screenings, exams, cleanings, preventive services, restorative care, oral surgery, and more to children. Some sites will do all that can be done on Feb. 5, while others will examine children on one day and offer free follow-up care after, or hold events on multiple dates. Estimated dollar value of the 2010 Ohio GKAS events is over $1 million, with more than 16,000 children expected to participate statewide.
Give Kids a Smile is about providing free dental services to children who are uninsured and whose families have no resources to afford dental care. It is also about awareness as many children seen through GKAS will visit the dentist for the first time in their lives. President of the Ohio Dental Association, Dr. Steve Simpson of Cleveland, said the need to educate all Ohioans about the importance of good oral health remains strong.
"We cannot stress enough the message that good oral health is an integral part of good overall health," Simpson stated. "Ohio's dental community has given over $6.1 million in free dental services to underserved children through Give Kids a Smile in the past seven years - that is a significant amount of volunteerism and an equally significant indicator of need," he stated.
GKAS also helps strengthen legislators' awareness about the access to dental care problem that exists in Ohio and throughout the U.S. "This program is about providing free dental care to children in need as much as it is about educating legislators on how their policies can impact the health of Ohioans of all ages," Simpson said.
Access to dental care continues to be Ohio's number one unmet healthcare need, as cited recently in the Ohio Department of Health's report, Oral Health and Access to Dental Care for Ohioans, 2010.
Give Kids a Smile was started in 2003 by the American Dental Association. It is supported in Ohio by the Ohio Dental Association, and nationally by the American Dental Association, Colgate, Henry Schein Dental and Dexis Digital X-ray Systems, Inc.
To learn more about GKAS, contact Kathy L. Woodard at (614) 486-2700.
Note to media: Due to the need for signed parental permission and health history, Give Kids a Smile events can only see children who are registered and scheduled in advance; please do not indicate to the public that the event is open to unregistered children or walk-ins.
SOURCE Ohio Dental Association