Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) is a national outreach sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) in association with Children’s Dental Health Month. The goal of the program is to reach dentally at-risk children through educational and restorative programs to promote lifelong oral and systemic health.
While GKAS is promoted nationally through the ADA, state and local dental associations, educational institutions and private dental practitioners provide tailored interventions to schools and various children’s organizations on a local level. In conjunction with community partners, the University of Florida sponsored three such interventions during the 2008 campaign.
- University of Florida students and faculty
- Alachua County Dental Association
- Santa Fe Community College faculty, staff and students
- Schein Dental Inc.
- Alachua County Health Department
- Alachua County School District
- Gainesville Community Ministries
- Private practice dentists and hygienists from the greater Gainesville community
Organization of outreach at the University of Florida
University of Florida Middle School Initiative
Middle school children were chosen as the target population for the 2008 educational outreach. Middle school students are approaching greater independence in decision making and are influenced by multiple social and behavioral determinants on which to base the decisions that influence their health.
Our interventions were scheduled for February 1, 2008 at Hawthorne and February 22, 2008 at Micanopy. Teams of dental students were recruited from all four dental classes, with junior and senior students acting as team leaders. The curriculum for the presentations was outlined by Dr. Carol Haggerty in Community Based Programs. The teams met with Dr. Haggerty to discuss the demographics of the schools, motivation and behavior in middle school children and creative presentation techniques to tailor the presentations for the target schools. The American Dental Association and its partners and the Schein Dental store at UF provided toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and product bags for each child. Tobacco literature for each child was provided by the American Cancer Association and the National Spit Tobacco Education Program of Oral Health America. Community volunteers from the ACDA were Dr. Jay Garlitz, also faculty at UF, and Dr. Enrique Vargas. Joining us were Ms. Charlotte Trout, community dental hygienist, and Ms. Glenda Guarino, professor emeritus of Santa Fe Community College. Each team presented to a classroom of 21 to 33 children. Seven teams of three to four students went to Hawthorne classrooms and three teams of two to three students went to Micanopy on the assigned day.
UF’s support role for the Alachua County Dental Association restorative outreach
The ACDA sponsored a one day restorative dentistry outreach to children in Alachua County organized by Dr. Alecia Mc Donald and Dr. Enrique Vargas. It was held at the Santa Fe Community College Dental Clinic on Saturday, March 1, 2008. UF participated in several planning discussions and provided a long list of restorative and disposable materials for the outreach (attached). Restorative materials from UF were taken from the CPB storage area where materials from previous initiatives were stored. There was no expense incurred for this donation and assured that these previously donated materials would be utilized prior to their expiration dates.
On the day of the outreach, 20 prescreened children, many referred by Gainesville Community Ministries, received comprehensive dental services. ACDA members were assisted by UF faculty, Dr. Jay Garlitz, Dr. David Stillwell and Dr. Carol Haggerty. UF dental students and Santa Fe dental assisting and dental hygiene students acted as assistants for ACDA practitioners. Community dental hygienists applied sealants. SFCC staff and faculty and the Alachua County Health Department staff handled logistics, patient charts, reception duties and sterilization needs. Children with needs beyond those available at the SFCC were offered a dental home by private practitioners in the area.
A brief follow-up meeting with the ACDA determined that the restorative outreach was successful. It was also sustainable, and reinforced organizational and practitioner partnerships in the community. It gave the ACDA a chance for solid leadership in the restorative initiative with plans to continue this role in the future. Plans to review, revise and/or expand this part of GKAS will be discussed at future meetings with the partners who participated in the initiative.
Both initiatives brought together talents and resources whose collaborative whole was far greater than the sum of its parts.