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Dentistry's Faculty and Student Volunteers “Give Kids a Smile!”

February, 2009

Dentistry students and faculty members joined together last Thursday (February 19th) for the 7th annual “Give Kids a Smile Day,” as part of a national initiative by the American Dental Association (ADA) to focus attention on untreated oral disease among children from low-income families.

Ohio State’s student-planned effort helped children at Columbus's Broadleigh Elementary School -- with the support of the College of Dentistry and the Ohio Dental Association (ODA).

Sunny Pahouja, a College of Dentistry student and the Chapter President for the American Student Dental Association (ASDA), was key in planning this event. “It’s a great opportunity to give back because these kids don’t have a chance to receive dental care since their access to it is so limited,” Pahouja said. “It makes us feel good to get involved because we can use what we’ve learned as dental students.”

About 250 children at Broadleigh received free dental services that included free dental exams, fluoride varnishes, oral health care products, and educational materials that explain the connection between good oral health -- and good health in general. The College of Dentistry’s Office of Community Education, directed by Dr. Canise Bean, plans to return to Broadleigh and address more complex dental needs that were identified during the exams.

Some dental students volunteered to answer questions and to show children how to brush and floss their teeth. Tina Crist, the school nurse at Broadleigh, commented that teaching children in this age group is especially important.

“These kids are losing their baby teeth and they’re growing new teeth now that will be there for the rest of their lives,” she said. “It’s so important to get that teaching when they come in so they can take care of the new teeth.”

The day’s events ended with a burst of excitement as Brutus Buckeye appeared for a surprise visit and some play time with the children. Having spent the day getting oral health education and dental treatments, the children hugged and played with Brutus, their favorite Buckeye, who gave all of the children -- and the volunteers -- their biggest and best smile of the day.