Dental School to Provide Free Care to Children on Feb. 3

By Lois Baker

Release Date: January 31, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Hundreds of children and their parents are expected to fill the dental clinics in the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo on Feb. 3 for the fifth annual "Give Kids a Smile" day.

Children from across Western New York who do not have access to dental care will receive dental treatment free of charge that day, as part of the UB dental school's community outreach programs.

In 2005, 132 volunteer dental faculty, alumni and dental students provided care to 550 children.

Children ages 1-18 from local Head Start centers, elementary schools, high schools and Hearts-4-Homeless locations will be transported to the school, along with their parents. Children will receive a dental exam, fluoride treatments, X-rays, sealants, oral hygiene instruction and other consultations or treatments as needed.

For children 1-5 years of age there will be a "Teddy Bear Clinic," where doctors, social workers and specialists in vision, speech, hearing and nutrition, will "examine" stuffed animals from the Winnie the Pooh Collection to help put the children at ease with exam procedures and with medical professionals. Three-hundred children in this age group are expected to attend.

The toys were donated by Fisher-Price through the Mattel Children's Foundation and by the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network.

Demonstrations of hand washing and information on lead poisoning and its prevention also will be provided. 

The Buffalo event is part of a national effort to encourage children to adopt good health habits early on, so they can avoid major problems later. In addition to UB, local co-sponsors of the event are Ivoclar Vivadent, a leading supplier of dental systems headquartered in Amherst, and the 8th District Dental Society.

The event is supported nationally by the American Dental Association, Crest and Sullivan-Schein Dental Co. of West Allis, Wis.