UTHealth School of Dentistry and the Greater Houston Dental Society joined forces to host Give Kids A Smile® Day in February, with 375 volunteers providing an estimated $164,000 in free care for 317 uninsured, underserved children from the Houston area.
Give Kids A Smile has become a February tradition in Houston, and this year the event coincided with “Go Texan Day” marking start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Consequently, many volunteers and patients showed up in cowboy hats, boots and western attire.
Dental care on Give Kids A Smile Day typically includes preventive treatments, simple extractions, and limited restorations. Organizations such as Communities in Schools-Houston, San Jose Clinic, Yellowstone Academy, and other local groups help identify the children in need.
In the weeks prior to the event, the School of Dentistry sends its Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® to schools to perform dental screening exams and take X-rays, so that individualized treatment plans are ready for the children on Give Kids A Smile Day. Faculty, staff and students from the School of Dentistry work beside volunteer dentists and dental hygienists from the community to provide treatments the children might not receive otherwise.
A $40,000 grant from the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation provided major funding for the event this year, with ongoing support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston, Inc. and the Susman Family Foundation.
The School of Dentistry and GHDS have been working together to provide Give Kids A Smile since 2003, when the American Dental Association Foundation launched the program nationally as a way for dentists to join with others in their communities to provide dental services to children in need.