Youngstown fourth- and fifth-graders, many of whom never have been seen by a dentist, received free examinations, teeth cleanings, fillings and even extractions during the local dental society’s Give Kids a Smile program.
The program took place Thursday and Friday at Choffin Career and Technical Center’s Dental Assisting Program area.
On Thursday, volunteer dentists, hygienists and Choffin dental-assistant students worked on Choffin students and Head Start participants. On Friday, students from Youngstown area schools got their turn in the dentist’s chair.
Since 2005, dentists from the Corydon Palmer Dental Society, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, have provided an estimated $163,000 worth of dental services to more than 800 students, said Dr. Sergio Nadler, chairman of the local Give Kids a Smile committee.
A second group event in East Liverpool has given more than $50,000 in free care to more than 460 children in a private dental office in that same time period, he said.
“We’re trying to emphasize giving back to the community,” said Dr. Nadler, who has offices in Champion and Niles.
“We were very glad to see the students who came, but we could have treated more if transportation could have been worked out,” he said.
Education materials, preventive and restorative care, and oral-care products, along with treatment, are part of the Corydon Palmer effort. “We urge children to drink water and milk instead of sugary drinks such as juice and pop,” he said.
Unfortunately, Dr. Nadler said, dentists working with the Give Kids a Smile project are not seeing an improvement in the health of the youngsters’ teeth.
He said 10 dentists, a number of dental hygienists and about 20 dental-assistant students participated in the event, which was coordinated by Tina Davis, dental-assistant instructor at Choffin.
Give Kids a Smile Ohio is an annual program of the Ohio Dental Association and component dental societies throughout the state. The program, started by the American Dental Association in 2003, is supported nationally by ADA, Colgate, Henry Schein Dental and Dexis Digital X-ray Systems Inc.
The estimated dollar value of the free services for 2013 GKAS Ohio events so far is more than $900,000. In the first 10 years of GKAS, Ohio dental volunteers gave more than $9.2 million in free dental services to more than 182,000 Ohio children in need, according to the ODA.