A day of free dental care for kids at UB’s ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’

For the 12th year in a row, the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine saw more than 800 local schoolchildren during its annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” on Feb. 1.

But something was different this year: “tooth fairies” were enlisted to help guide the children and their parents through tours of the dental clinics, the hands-on activities, the oral hygiene instruction and the award-winning Teddy Bear Clinic.

In addition to tooth fairies, volunteers numbering in the hundreds from the UB dental school—faculty, students and staff—donated their time to provide dental cleanings and treatment to children who may not receive regular dental care and who may never have seen a dentist.

The community rolls up its sleeves, too. Erie Community College and UB’s Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) dental hygiene students as well as Western New York private dentists give freely of their time to see local kids get the oral care they need.

Serving the children of Western New York since 1917, UB’s dental clinic is also the “dental home” for more than 50,000 patient visits throughout the year.

Dignitaries attending the day’s events included Michael Glick, DMD, professor and dean of the UB dental school; Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27); Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale R. Burstein, MD, and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

In his remarks celebrating the day Higgins said, “Historically and today, UB has had a profound effect on health and wellness in Western New York. And the UB dental school is a leader, especially in giving back to the community.”

Before Mayor Brown proclaimed Feb.1 as “Give Kids a Smile Day” he said, “I’ve been here every year for this event and I believe the UB dental school is the best dental school in the nation because of the health care they provide not just on this day but on every day of the year.”

Burstein, who mentioned that her father was a UB dental school alumnus, said, “As a pediatrician, I know that oral health is an important component of good general health.”

Glick, who has said in previous interviews that oral health problems are the number one cause of missed school days, praised M. Dian ChinKit-Wells, DDS, clinical assistant professor in the UB Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry, for her role in helping to coordinate the annual day of free dental services saying, “This is all possible because of Dian’s extraordinary efforts every year.”

Wells, a 1994 alumna of UB’s dental school, said that this year UB will continue to see children with more advanced dental problems on Wednesdays in February.

“As always, every child will leave the UB clinics with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and instruction on how to keep their teeth healthy,” said Wells.

“For more serious problems, children will either receive limited restorative dental work or will be scheduled for additional treatment.

“By the end of February, we will have worked to find today’s pediatric patients a dentist in Western New York or they can continue to come to UB and call us their dental home.”

The event is held as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month in collaboration with the American Dental Association (ADA) and the 8th District Dental Society.

The University at Buffalo
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.