NSU College of Dental Medicine give kids a reason to smile

On Feb. 3, the NSU College of Dental Medicine will provide pro-bono dental care to children in the community by appointment and walk-in services from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in its on-campus dental clinic.

This one-day event was created by the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation to recognize a nationwide need to help children who don’t have access to dental care. NSU partnered with the ADA to host this unique, Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) event. This event is student-led and organized and part of monthly oral health education visits to local schools by the students. Last year, they provided this pro-bono service to 350 children and they hope to do the same this year.

According to Joanna Theodorou, co-director of GKAS, “[GKAS] is an event that started as preventative medicine, since a lot of pediatric dental care is preventative medicine. What’s great about our event is that we can do restorative, operative and some invasive procedures.”

The children who attend this event will receive care including a cleaning, an oral exam, preventative medicine and other necessary procedures like radiographs and other screenings. If a child needs a filling or another type of dental procedure, this will be done on site during the event. By scheduling appointments, patients and dental practitioners will be able to give the patient substantial time to fit his or her individual needs. These dental services are provided by dental students under the supervision of faculty.

Theodorou said, “Second-year [dental student] volunteers help with cleanings and third or fourth year student volunteers will perform a majority of the procedures. Everyone gets an equal opportunity to volunteer and participate in the event.”

Linda Niessen, dean of NSU College of Dental Medicine, said that the event will be festive with a live DJ from RadioX and a special appearance from Razor and “Timmy the Tooth.” There will be face-painting, balloon animals and other activities throughout the day for children. A majority of these festivities will take place in front of the building’s atrium but will trickle into the dental clinic as the building will be decorated in a jungle theme.

Children will also have an interdisciplinary opportunity to learn about the various health professions offered at NSU. The College of Pharmacy will teach children about safety with prescription medications, the College of Optometry will give free eye exams and learn the importance of eye health and the representatives from the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine will present a fun activity on the human anatomy as a teaching tool.

“Dental disease is preventable,” said Niessen. “So if we can have children come when they’re young we can maybe prevent tooth decay and they can have a healthy start throughout their life.”

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