By: Raymond Durham, Roseman DMD Class of 2017

On the ADA Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile® (GKAS) kick-off day, February 5, Roseman University’s College of Dental Medicine held its 3rd annual GKAS event at our Dental Clinic. As a non-profit institution of higher education, Roseman University is committed to improving oral health care for children in Utah and throughout the Intermountain West.

The event provides a unique opportunity to increase access to care for these children, while also allowing dental students to participate in an important cause that they will hopefully continue when they enter a career as a dental provider.

The ADA Foundation began Give Kids a Smile to raise awareness for “children who do not receive dental care…and to establish a dental home,” according to the ADA Foundation website ( Roseman’s approach to GKAS parallels that goal by providing free dental care for children on the day of the event, offering vouchers for patients to return for future care, and providing an affordable option for families that otherwise do not have access to dental care. Previous events have resulted in about 45 percent of patients returning to The Dental Clinic at Roseman University as their dental home. Of these, over 80 percent reported having no dental insurance, 50 percent had not seen a dentist in over a year, and 48 percent had unmet dental needs, including decay. Perhaps more importantly, children who participated in the event received a positive experience at a dental office and were able to learn more about the importance of oral health care.

“Meeting student doctors, playing games, and learning about dental health is a great opportunity to establish a positive lasting effect for children regarding their oral health care. Hopefully events like this plant a seed to help children maintain their oral health and feel comfortable attending the dentist throughout their life,” said Dr. Aaron Ferguson, Director of Public Health Education at Roseman University College of Dental Medicine.

At the 2016 event, 503 children received limited exams, cleanings, and sealants. The total estimated value of the services provided the day of the event is over $90,000. Additionally, all children who attended the event received a voucher to return for a comprehensive exam, a complete set of radiographs (X-rays), and $50 to put toward future care if needed.

In total Roseman University’s Give Kids a Smile program will result in over $214,000 worth of dental care donated to the community, and a dental home for hundreds of children in need. We are excited about the success of this year’s event, and look forward to next year’s Give Kids a Smile® event.

You can find more information about The Dental Clinic at Roseman University, which offers affordable dental care for the whole family in the Salt Lake area, and about future events here. If you missed Give Kids a Smile, remember that you can always come in for a screening at no cost. Just call 801-878-1200 to schedule it.