The American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation has kicked off its annual Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS) program, which aims to provide hundreds of thousands of children in need with free oral health education, screening, prevention, and treatment services from thousands of volunteer dental professionals across the country. Give Kids A Smile is an anchor event of the American Dental Association’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.
This year marks the program’s 14th year providing services.
“The mission of the ADA Foundation includes education and access to care, and nothing embodies those goals better than the Give Kids A Smile program. For 14 years Give Kids A Smile has worked to improve oral care for children, and its history is rich with examples of how we achieve those goals,” said Reneida Reyes, DDS, MPH, PC, president of the ADA Foundation. “Since its inception, we estimate that more than 5 million children have been educated about the importance of good oral health care, and many of those same children have had access to basic oral care at GKAS events.”
At least 1,500 GKAS events are scheduled to take place throughout the year. Throughout 2016, an estimated 300,000 children will receive oral health services from 40,000 or more volunteers.
The GKAS program originated in 2002 in St Louis. The American Dental Association launched it nationally in 2003 as a way for dentists to join with others in the community to provide free dental services to underserved children. Initially a 1-day event in February, the program has since grown to include events of all descriptions, year-round.
For more information about how Give Kids A Smile programs are organized across the country, visit adafoundation.org/gkas. For more information about what GKAS programs are taking place in your area, contact your state or local dental association.