The intent of the National Give Kids A Smile Day events are to provide education, screenings, preventive, and restorative services for children and to create awareness about the access to dental care problem that exists in the U.S. This is particularly significant given the daunting statistic that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness. (Oral Health in America: A Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, 2003)
Give Kids a Smile Ohio is an annual program of the Ohio Dental Association and component dental societies throughout the state. GKAS was started by the American Dental Association in 2003 as a program through which dental professionals throughout the U.S. volunteer together on one designated day to provide needed oral health care and education. However, the program has grown to multiple days in many areas of Ohio. Children participating this year have been selected from area schools that serve low-income populations, local youth clubs, HeadStart programs, social service agencies, and other organizations that serve disadvantaged children. Oral health education is an important component of this program because children may share toothbrushes with other family members and often don’t know how to brush properly. Parents may not know what causes a cavity or even realize that their child is in pain from tooth decay. Sadly, for some children, pain from dental disease is a way of life.
The Ohio Give Kids a Smile program is one of the strongest in the country, and in November 2014, was the national recipient of the Smile Champion 2013 Award given by the American Dental Association Foundation.