OHSU

Free oral care on Give Kids a Smile day

Give Kids a Smile Day 2013 

They traveled from as far as Camas, Wash., and Hillsboro, Ore., and many rose before dawn without breakfast. What got these young people out of bed?

A trip to the dentist.

For many young people who live in low income families and are uninsured, oral care is hard to come by. That’s why OHSU School of Dentistry hosts Give Kids a Smile day to help children who cannot afford to see a dentist get the care they need.

This year, about 140 young people from local Boys & Girls Clubs were screened for Give Kids a Smile day and then bussed to the dental school on Feb. 1 for treatment.

“Give Kids a Smile day allowed youth the opportunity to get needed oral care that their family and economic background cannot provide,” said Jeff Bourgette, executive program officer, Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area. “This aligns with the focus of Boys and Girls Clubs assisting members and families with leading healthy lifestyles.”

Fourth-year dental student Taylor Diggs cared for “Maddiye” a 13-year-old who received oral care for the first time in 2011 at the school’s Give Kids a Smile day. This year, Maddiye is a pro at visiting the dentist.

“I’m not nervous,” she said, as Taylor prepped to fill a cavity.

“She needs to brush and floss a little more, but she’s doing a good job,” he said. “I’m going to clean out all the sugar bugs and make sure this tooth is healthy.”

This is the 11th year OHSU School of Dentistry has sponsored Give Kids a Smile day, which is coordinated by senior dental students in conjunction with Multnomah Dental Society under the umbrella of the American Dental Association.

“This was such an important day for the children and the dental students,” said Richard Grabowsky, D.D.S., assistant professor of pediatric dentistry, who was the faculty advisor for the student-led event. “Access to care continues to be a hurdle for children to get dental care as evidenced by the unmet needs we saw and treated at Give Kids a Smile day.

“It is wonderful to see the dental students give back to the Portland community,” he said. “My hope is that they will graduate and continue taking care of those with dental needs who lack the financial ability to go to the dentist.”