It is hard to believe but tooth decay is the number one chronic infectious disease among American kids today! Although there have been improvements in coverage of children’s dental care, and although Medicaid is available, 42% of kids aged 2-11 suffer from tooth decay. Eating sweets is a big part of our culture and when kids don’t take daily care of their teeth and don’t have access to a dentist, tooth decay can be a huge problem. Unfortunately many of those kids are low-income minorities that simply don’t have access to even the most basic dental care. Give Kids a Smile is an organization which is dedicated to providing dental care to kids in need so that they can avoid tooth decay and enjoy better overall oral health.
Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) was founded in 2002 years ago by a group of dentists who treated 400 children in St. Louis, MO in one day. Today it is made up of over half a million volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to treating kids. These volunteers include dentists and other dental care professionals as well as teachers, parents, school nurses and other community health professionals. These volunteers spend their time providing educational resources as well as preventative care and dental treatments. For some of us, basic dental education, such as knowing that you need to brush your teeth twice a day, and that you need to visit a dentist at least once a year to check your teeth is obvious. For many children, though, this is sadly not something they take for granted so it’s crucial that those kids will get the proper education and treatment.
GKAS is celebrating its 15th anniversary in February – National Children’s Dental Health Month. This grassroots program is now a national program. It has held more than 1,300 events in all 50 states and has thus far treated over 5.5 million underserved kids! You don’t need to be a dentist to take part of this movement – you can volunteer at an event or donate.
Donating time and money to causes is a part of our lives and my (older) kids are aware of it and know it is a way to contribute to society. Whether it’s donating clothes and toys they outgrew, or giving money to a friend who is running in a race for a cure, my kids understand the effects it has on society. My daughter was recently invited to a birthday party where the recipient asked for donation to a children’s charity abroad in lieu of presents. This has really resonated with my daughter and really got her thinking that while having presents for your birthday is fun, there are kids out there who need them more than she does. Donating to a cause that helps kids have better teeth has obvious benefits: the kids will enjoy not only healthy teeth and gums, but also higher self-esteem.
Visit Give Kids a Smile to learn how you can attend, volunteer or donate.
Visit the GKAS on Facebook and “like” the page to stay updated on their latest endeavors.
Senior Reviewer Maytal Wichman has also written for The Huffington Post. She has been living in New York City for fourteen years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature as well as a Law Degree, but blogging is her true passion. Maytal is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 10, 7 and 4) and loves finding great products that make her family’s life easier.