A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) students, faculty, staff, and alumni were on hand for Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) at the Mesa, Arizona, campus on Feb. 28, 2020. In partnership with the Arizona Dental Foundation, more than 300 uninsured kids from the greater Phoenix area were provided with dental services throughout the day.
“We do everything from basic treatments, sealants, cleanings and preventative stuff to advance care, maybe even a root canal or a crown for a kid,” said Matthew Finor, D3, ATSU-ASDOH co-chair of event.
GKAS is not just a chance for kids to receive dental treatment and be coached on oral health, but to also improve the quality of their education. Dental pain can be a significant contributor to loss of productivity and absenteeism in school.
“If a kid is in school and has a lot of dental pain, it can take away from their learning experience, because it is hard to concentrate in school and get a good education when you are constantly in pain,” said Finor.
For some, GKAS was the first time they had ever received dental care, so ATSU-ASDOH students went out of their way to ensure that all of the kids had a great experience. Upon arrival, kids were brought into different waiting rooms that were decorated in fun themes, with movies playing and games set up. When it was their turn to be treated, each kid was escorted by a cheerful volunteer that stayed with them from start to finish.
Once treatments were completed, kids were taken to the carnival area where they were greeted by first-year ATSU-ASDOH students dressed as a variety of characters and superheroes. Dressed-up students provided entertainment to the kids through carnival games, dancing, and face painting. There were smiles all around, from the kids who conquered going to the dentist, to the parents who witnessed the event firsthand.
“There are people out there that unfortunately cannot afford dental care, and today we are able to receive just that. Not just care, but general kindness,” said Carrie Turano, the parent of a child who received treatment.
Carrie’s daughter was able to have one of her front teeth repaired, “it warms my heart to see her smile. We are just incredibly grateful.”
ATSU-ASDOH has been hosting Give Kids a Smile for the past 15 years.