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Nearly 100 preschoolers received free dental care services during the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Give Kids a Smile Day event.

More than 200 volunteers, including School of Dentistry students, residents, staff and faculty members, participated in the event on Feb. 7. The Durham Head Start students, ages 3-5, received dental exams, tooth cleanings and fluoride varnish treatments. If the services had been paid for in private practice, the oral care would have cost an estimated $16,185.

In addition to the dental care, the youngsters also participated in a health fair. One station at the fair was designed to get the children moving, another allowed the children to dress like a dentist and others provided education on tooth brushing, hand washing, nutritional habits and overall body health. Volunteers from the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC School of Nursing, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and members of the UNC volleyball and football teams participated.

The event was held in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day, a program that began 11 years ago. It is designed to encourage dentists to provide cost-free care to children in need while raising awareness of untreated dental disease in both their local communities and across the country.

“I am particularly proud of the way our Give Kids a Smile Day showed how interdisciplinary collaboration among dental, medical and public health providers can have an impact on our patients and their families,” said Ben Anders, a second-year D.D.S. student and one of the event co-chairs. “I believe that our school’s Give Kids a Smile Day exemplifies how successful and fun these collaborations can be.”

Published February 10, 2014.