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Annual UCSF Event Gives Kids a Reason to Smile

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Some of the volunteers who spent their Saturday providing free dental screenings, fluoride treatments and oral hygiene education to kids. Photo by Mason Tran/DS3

By Edmundo EJ Abasolo
Contributing Writer

The UCSF School of Dentistry hosted Give Kids a Smile Day last month, providing free dental services to under-served children.  As part of National Children’s Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association, students, faculty and volunteers participated in raising awareness about the importance of oral health and tackling the most common chronic childhood disease, tooth decay.  

The dental school was decorated with an “Under the Sea” theme, with sea animals, corals and reefs, and children were entertained by professional balloon sculptors, face painting and other activities.

The Schweitzer Fellows provided parents health care, lifestyle and nutrition activities, while pre-dental volunteers helped children learn positive oral health, using engaging activities and presentations in the education room.

Children of 2 to 17 years old, from across the Bay Area, were welcome, and all services were provided at no cost.

All in all, 159 dental sealants, 136 prophylactic cleanings, 103 fluoride varnish applications, and dental and orthodontic screenings were provided to a total of 157 children, many of whom were uninsured (44%) and had visible, untreated cavities (40%).

Services were provided by a corps of 175 student dentists and pre-dental students, working under the supervision of 27 UCSF School of Dentistry residents, faculty dentists, staff members and volunteer dentists.

“The best part of Give Kids a Smile is seeing children beam with joy after a dental procedure,” said second-year dental student Max Jensen. “It makes me feel like a superhero."

First-year student Eric Brown added, “Going through the frantic workload of D1 year, events like Give Kids a Smile remind me of why I entered dentistry in the first place. Our young patients came into the clinic crying, but left with a smile.”

Edmundo “EJ” Abasolo is a second dental student.

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