‘Dental heroes’ and free dental care for kids at UB’s ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’

Sports mascots, Teddy Bear Clinic and ‘tooth fairies’ were there for the whole family

Release Date: February 7, 2014

little girl with Buster Bison

Buster Bison is just one of the mascots who makes an appearance at the day's festivities. Photo: Doug Levere

“The UB School of Dental Medicine is a great partner for us in Erie County and one of our community’s greatest health assets.”
Gale R. Burstein, MD, Erie County Commiissioner of Health

For the 14th  year in a row, more than 800 local schoolchildren visited the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine during the school’s annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” on Feb. 7.

This year’s theme was “Super smiles brought to you courtesy of your dental hero.” And everyone who volunteers or participates to make the day a success is considered a “dental hero.”

For the second year, “tooth fairies” helped guide the children and their parents through tours of the dental clinics, hands-on activities, oral hygiene instruction and the award-winning Teddy Bear Clinic.

In addition to tooth fairies, volunteers numbering in the hundreds — including private dentists and dental hygienists, and faculty, students and staff from the UB dental school — donated their time to provide dental cleanings and treatment to children who may not receive regular dental care and who may be seeing a dentist for the first time.

Serving Western New York since 1917, UB’s dental clinic is also the “dental home” for thousands of patients who made more than 50,000 visits throughout the year.

In addition to UB Provost Charles F. Zukoski, dignitaries who were in attendance this year included Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale R. Burstein, MD, and City of Buffalo Second Deputy Mayor Ellen S. Grant.

Grant, a UB alumna, thanked the UB dental clinic for helping the children of Western New York. “We know that the mouth is the gateway to the body so getting oral health care early is very important for general health,” she said.

Burstein, who mentioned that her father is a recently retired UB dental faculty member, noted that as a pediatrician, “I know that problems with oral health can affect eating, growth and general health in children. The UB School of Dental Medicine is a great partner for us in Erie County and one of our community’s greatest health assets.”

Zukoski, who was making his first appearance at Give Kids a Smile Day, said the day’s events made UB proud.

“UB Dental and its engagement with the city during events like this are rewarding for the children, the dental students and the dental school. I look forward to the 15th Give Kids a Smile Day,” he said.

Grant proclaimed Feb.7 as “Give Kids a Smile Day.”

Michael Glick, DDS, dean of the dental school, said that oral health problems are the No. 1 cause of missed school days and that good oral health is a key component of overall health.

 Glick added that the annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” is a major event for the UB School of Dental Medicine and represents an extraordinary amount of planning, coordination and outreach.

“This is all possible because of the exceptional efforts of Dr. Wells, the UB Smile Team and the many Western New York dentists and community partners who volunteer every year,” he says.

Event organizer M. Dian ChinKit-Wells, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the UB Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry and a 1994 alumna of UB’s dental school, said children who have more advanced dental problems requiring more treatment than could be offered during the day’s visit will be able to schedule future appointments for care at UB

“As always, every child left the UB clinics with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and instruction on how to keep their teeth healthy,” said Wells.

“Every year we work to find our children a dentist in their local community or they can continue to come to UB and call us their dental home. It is important that our patients continue with dental care more than just once a year.”

The event is held as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month in collaboration with the American Dental Association and the Eighth District Dental Society.

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