Each year on the first Friday in February, Corydon Palmer Dental Society joins thousands of dentists and their dental team members from across the country to provide free oral health care services to children who do not have access to dental care. This event launches National Children's Dental Health Month, which is celebrated during the entire month of February and which focuses on providing oral health education to all children despite their economic status.
Corydon Palmer’s 15th annual observance of Give Kids A Smile Day for Trumbull and Mahoning counties was held on February 3 this year at Choffin Career Center in Youngstown. A later date, in March, chosen to accommodate the weather, will serve children in Columbiana County.
The American Dental Association began the 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 initially began as a one-day event in February, but has since grown to local and national events year-round. Dentists and other team members volunteer their time, and services, to provide screenings, treatments and education to children throughout the United States. Each year, approximately 350,000 children benefit from more than 1,500 events, all because of the efforts of 40,000 or more annual volunteers.
In addition to providing free oral health care services to thousands of children across the country, participating dentists and other organizations help teach children how to keep their teeth healthy. This might include: tooth-brushing and flossing demonstrations, educational displays in schools, talks on the importance of eating healthy foods, why it is important to have healthy teeth, and what keeps teeth from being healthy.
Give Kids A Smile activities also highlight for policy makers the ongoing challenges that low-income families face in finding dental care. Once confined to just a one-day observance, GKAS is now a year-around program that centers on GKAS Day. Corydon Palmer's participation was spearheaded from the beginning by Dr. Steven Watts and subsequently came under the leadership of Dr. Sergio Nadler, who last year was chosen among just 10 dentists nationwide to participate in a leadership seminar of GKAS Day.
Dentists, assistants, hygienists, and staff members screen the children and give each a diagnosis sheet; those diagnosed with dental disease also receive a list of safety net or other dental clinics in the area that offer free or reduced dental care. Several area businesses and dental labs contribute food and tooth care products. Additionally, several Corydon Palmer Dental Society members have agreed to treat one or more of these children in their own offices at a later date.
This is how The Vindicator has reported on past years' events: