Three organizations will receive 2018 Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Continuity of Care Grants from the ADA Foundation. These funds are designed to help these established GKAS programs provide a dental home to children in need after their initial GKAS visit. Many GKAS events are held in February as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month.
“The ADA Foundation received 38 project proposals for the 2018 GKAS Continuity of Care Grants. Each of them had merit, demonstrating a commitment by the profession to improve access to care and educating the public about that need,” said Mary J. Jayes, DDS, MS, chair of the ADA Foundation’s Access to Care and Education Committee. “The committee made the decision to fund these three programs for 2018, and we look forward to their success.”
Children’s Dental Services (CDS) of Minnesota, which will receive a $10,000 grant, will provide restorative dental care and other oral health services for about 500 underserved children and young adults through the age of 26 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities) metropolitan area through its 2018 GKAS program.
The grant will help CDS provide exams, X-rays, cleanings, sealants, fluoride applications, oral health education, nitrous sedation, extractions, fillings, pulpotomies, and emergency care. CDS also will serve as a dental home by creating ongoing records for all GKAS patients, offering an integrated, supportive environment that provides a full range of site-based dental care.
“Providing a full range of ongoing care and completing treatment plans provides the best oral health outcomes for the children we serve and would not be possible without the support of this ADA Foundation grant,” said CDS executive director Sarah Wovcha.
The Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center Foundation will receive a $12,500 grant. Each year, the LSU Department of Pediatric Dentistry partners with the New Orleans Dental Association for GKAS. The 2018 program will serve about 200 children at a local school that has a high proportion of children of recent immigrants.
Many of these children were impacted by the devastating local flooding in August 2017. Historically, children from this school have a high disease burden, and many have barriers to follow-up care because they are subject to a five-year waiting period and are not yet eligible for Medicaid.
About 50 children currently receive needed restorative and surgical care following the GKAS program. The grant funding will allow program coordinators to provide comprehensive care to an anticipated 50 children following the 2018 event.
“Many dentists feel that access to care is not a problem for poor children due to government programs and safety net clinics. However, there is a large, silent population of children who fall through these gaps and suffer due to lack of care despite their parents’ best efforts,” said Janice Townsend, DDS, MS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “Our whole school is proud to serve these children and get them on track to have healthy teeth for a lifetime.”
The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) will use its $20,000 grant to serve low-income American Indian families with children up to the age of 17 through its GKAS program providing dental screenings, sealants, fluoride applications, restorative care, extractions, and healthy dental hygiene demonstrations.
A 2010 survey by the Indian Health Service found that 39% of American Indian children ages 2 through 5 in Oklahoma City have had dental caries, compared to a national rate of 27%. At least half of the patients served during OKCIC’s 2017 GKAS event experienced their first dental care visit. The project will provide continuity of care to children seen during the GKAS program by providing follow-up treatment for 67 patients during the 12 months following the 2018 event.
“Preventive care is critical to maintaining good dental health and overall well-being,” said OKCIC dental director Mona Farzaneh-Joseph, DDS. “It’s important to educate children and parents about proper dental care to reduce and help prevent tooth decay and other serious issues that can arise from inadequate care. Give Kids A Smile Day allows us to do just that.”