Student Organized Program Offers Pro-Bono Dental Care to 750 Children in Need

NSU College of Dental Medicine Kicks Off National Gives Kids A Smile® Program

08 Feb, 2016, 13:12 ET from Nova Southeastern University

FT. LAUDERDALE and DAVIE, Fla., Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) College of Dental Medicine provided pro-bono dental services to 750 school children and special needs patients in South Florida on Friday, February 5, 2016 to help kick off the ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Day program.

The children received examinations, cleanings, oral health education, preventive and restorative services at no cost (valued at more than $300,000).

NSU was selected by the ADA Foundation among 1,500 sites throughout the Unites States as the GKAS national launch site due to the university's leading efforts since launching the program more than a decade ago.

"Each year, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine's Give Kids A Smile program provides dental care to several hundred children, many of whom have never visited the dentist," said Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean of the college. "This student-led program engages faculty, staff and community members who serve as volunteers in the day's events, enabling our students to realize their leadership potential. GKAS also teaches our College of Dental Medicine students the power of giving back to the community, which is a core value of Nova Southeastern University."

This year, in addition to continuing to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County and other community organizations to reach out to children and their families, NSU teamed up with Broward County Public Schools, which sent students and teachers from eight elementary schools in the county. Several school principals estimated that this was the first trip to the dentist for approximately 80 percent of their school children.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that tooth decay is the most common disease of childhood, five times more common than asthma, and children don't learn when they are suffering from dental pain. In addition, it is estimated that more than 51 million school hours are lost each year to dental-related illness.

"It was heartwarming to see the students come into our clinic with big smiles and leave with even bigger ones," said Kelly Cundy, fourth year NSU dental student and co-coordinator of NSU's GKAS Day. "Knowing that we helped educate these young children about the importance of dental care makes all of our hard work worthwhile."

"This would not have been possible without an incredible team of over 500 dental student volunteers," added Adam Saltz, third year NSU dental student and co-coordinator of NSU's GKAS Day. "In addition, this year, we added osteopathic medical students and pharmacy students to educate the children about health and wellness, which added a true interprofessional element to the program"

NSU's GKAS is student organized and led. NSU faculty members participate in this community service event and supervise dental students in this project.

Attendees enjoyed a fun carnival atmosphere with former Miami Dolphins player O.J. McDuffie and cheerleaders, Florida Panthers mascot Stanley C. Panther, face painters, balloon artists, clowns, music, Elsa and Anna from "Frozen," and "Timmy the Tooth."

NSU's event is the kickoff for the 1,500 GKAS events scheduled to take place throughout the year. GKAS events range from those similar to NSU's, which provide services to hundreds of children in a day, to individual dentists providing pro-bono oral health services and a dental home to one or several children under the Give Kids A Smile banner. Throughout 2016, approximately 300,000 underserved children will receive oral health services from 40,000 or more volunteers, including 10,000 dentists.

"The mission of the ADA Foundation includes education and access to care, and nothing embodies those goals better than the Give Kids A Smile program. For 14 years, Give Kids A Smile has worked to improve oral care for children, and its history is rich with examples of how we achieve those goals," said Reneida Reyes, D.D.S., M.P.H., president, ADA Foundation. "Since its inception we estimate that more than 5 million children have been educated about the importance of good oral health care, and many of those same children have had access to basic oral care at GKAS events."  

NSU GKAS sponsors include Henry Schein Cares; Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals; Inc.; KaVo Kerr Group; American Student Dental Association; and NSU College of Dental Medicine's Student Government Association.

Give Kids A Smile: The ADA Foundation's Give Kids A Smile program is one of the world's largest oral health charitable programs. Launched nationally by the American Dental Association in 2003, Give Kids A Smile is an access-to-care endeavor designed to encourage parents, health professionals, and policymakers to address the year-round need for oral health care and education for all children. Each year the Give Kids A Smile program supports approximately 10,000 dentists, 30,000 dental team members, and other community volunteers in providing free oral health care services including exams, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings, crowns, and extractions, to more than 350,000 children from low-income families across the country. To find out more about Give Kids A Smile, visit www.adafoundation.org/GKAS.

About NSU College of Dental Medicine: Students of the college benefit from state-of-the-art educational and clinical facilities, which feature the latest in computer and video technology, and from our distinguished professors, recruited from throughout the United States. The college's facilities, faculty, and dynamic curriculum have attracted worldwide attention. Students and professionals come from diverse backgrounds to pursue their courses of study at the college.For more information, please visit http://dental.nova.edu/

About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 26,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie's Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education's criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information about NSU and realizingpotential.nova.edu for more information on the largest fundraising campaign in NSU history.

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