Catherine Gray Beuten
Integrated University Communications
February is not only the month of love it’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month. And again this year underserved children received the love and care they need from the School of Dental Medicine. Give Kids a Smile Day was Friday, Feb. 4, at Anschutz Medical Campus and across the state.
Volunteer dentists from throughout the metro area supported the Colorado Dental Associations effort to provide more than 2,000 children with dental care. On the Anschutz Medical Campus, 30 dentists, 12 assistants, 32 students, 20 CU staff provided free dental treatment for more than 168 children without access to dental care.
The weather this year was a little more challenging, explains Molly Pereira, associate executive director of the Colorado Dental Association. “But despite the icy roads of the morning, the patients still came.”
As always, this annual event saw children coming in with a mixture of hope and apprehension, and leaving with big smiles. “The kids had a great dental experience,” Pereira says. “Many of them had never seen a dentist before, so it was really important to us to make their experience a positive one.”
The parents were extremely grateful as well. “One mom told me that she made the appointment not knowing how she was going to make it work since she has a full-time job without much flexibility,” Pereira says. “On Friday morning she decided to call in sick because her son’s oral health was more important than a little white lie.”
Give Kids a Smile Day is special not only for the children and their parents. “The students LOVED Friday,” Pereira says. “In most cases, this was their first opportunity treating a pediatric patient and they had a great time with the kids, some saying that they were easier to treat than adults.”
It’s a yearly highlight for CU dentists and dentists from across the state as well. “We were very fortunate to have seven pediatric dentists volunteer this year, which gave our more apprehensive patients some extra comfort and specialized attention,” she explains. “And of course the dentists love the opportunity to volunteer at CU for this event: The environment is so different from their every day, so it’s really a treat to be able to work so closely with colleagues in the open setting. They also love to have the mentoring opportunity with the dental students.”
An estimated 7.8 million hours of school are lost every year in Colorado because of oral pain and infection. Give Kids a Smile Day is held annually to provide free dental services to local uninsured children who would otherwise not receive dental care, and raise awareness of the epidemic of untreated dental disease occurring in Colorado and across the country among low-income populations.