On Friday, Feb. 22, A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) and the Arizona Dental Foundation hosted the annual event, Give Kids A Smile. About 500 uninsured and underinsured children received free dental care, a new record for the school. Service provided at this year’s event was valued at close to $200,000.
Dental care was provided by ATSU-ASDOH students, faculty, and alumni, as well as local volunteer dentists. Children ages 6-12 from Mesa Public Schools, Apache Junction Unified School District, and community organizations were prescreened to receive cleanings, fillings, sealants and extractions.
To reinforce healthy habits, the event was designed to make going to the dentist fun. The festivities included carnival games and face painting. Many dental students dressed as superheroes and other fictional characters to put kids at ease as they received care.
GKAS is a national program, launched in 2003 by the American Dental Association to reduce school absenteeism by preventing oral health issues. Since the program’s inception, more than 5.5 million underserved children across the country have received free oral health services at a GKAS event.