Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, corporate sponsorship, UNLV School of Dental Medicine, the Southern Nevada Dental Society, Roseman University, and dentists all across the country, on February 5th, underserved children benefit from free dental care. Dubbed Give Kids A Smile Day, the event helped as many as 5.5 million children nationwide. Approximately 137,000 dentists have chipped in who were also aided by more than 420,000 volunteers to accomplish the task, says Southern Nevada Dental Society’s Dr. Emily Ishkanian.
Las Vegas Valley has been the host of the event for the 15th year now. Give Kids A Smile Day organizers say that even most of the children that receive free dental care each year are also enrolled in Medicaid. However, they receive little or no dental services during the year. Locally, almost 200 volunteers, dental students, assistants, and hygienists provide dozens of southern Nevadan children with the medical care they need.
According to UNLV School of Dental Medicine’s Dr. Wendy Woodall, some children rarely get their chance at a proper dental care and hygiene. As a result, most children have cavities in their teeth that apart from being at fault for the lack of concentration, problems sleeping, and pains, also have some emotional implications, leading to low self-esteem in some patients.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also supports the dentists’ initiative. Official reports show that one child in for with ages between 2 to 11 suffers from a lack of concentration and sleep issues associated with poor dental hygiene, especially cavities that lower both the level of one’s self-esteem as well as overall health in a patient.
The Give Kids A Smile event first treated its first patients for free in 2002. Since then, the Southern Nevada Dental Society has been home to 14 more. One year after its implementation, the American Dental Association launched the program nationwide as a way for underserved children to receive improved medical care free of charge. In America, approximately 1,500 events for children are hosted all across the country and more than 350,000 children enjoy their benefits.
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