As National Children’s Dental Health Month kicks into gear this February, dental schools across the country are offering Give Kids a Smile clinics, where local children can get free oral care including exams, sealants, fillings, and more. On February 2, students at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Dental Medicine partnered with dentists from the Greater Cleveland Dental Society as part of the outreach effort.
“The program has grown over the years and is a part of most all dental societies throughout the country,” said Ronald Occhionero, DDS, associate dean for administration at the school, which has hosted Give Kids a Smile events since its inception in 2003.
More than 250 students from Cleveland’s Alfred A. Benesch, Marion-Sterling, and George Washington Carver elementary schools received care at clinics located at the dental school and at the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Unit. These children received exams, dental prophylaxis, radiographs, and sealants valued at more than $60,000. Volunteers also provided oral hygiene education via videos and puppets.
“Our dental students can have a positive and lasting influence on how these children will perceive dental care and its importance for their lifetimes,” said Occhionero.
According to the Ohio Dental Association, dental volunteers have provided more than $13.5 million in dental care to more than 250,000 underserved children in Ohio over the past 15 years as part of Give Kids a Smile. Last year’s events provided nearly $1 million in care for free to about 15,000 children statewide.