Posted February 14, 2008

Dental students help give kids a smile

On Feb. 1, more than 80 students from Kenderton Elementary School in North Philadelphia received dental examinations, cleanings and topical fluoride applications from Temple faculty and students in pediatric dentistry, restorative dentistry and dental public health sciences. Their visit to the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry was part of Give Kids a Smile Day, a national initiative sponsored by the American Dental Association to provide free preventive care and oral health education to underserved populations.

Prior to their appointments, patients waited in the children’s lounge and were treated to balloon animals, movies and finger painting. Some children also received X-rays and dental sealants. Those requiring further care were seen by a nurse who would contact parents to schedule a follow-up appointment.

“Kenderton is located directly within the Temple surrounding community, so we really felt an obligation to give something back,” said fourth-year student Avin Gupta, co-organizer of the event.

Oral health disparities among Latino and African American children continue to be a concern for dental healthcare professionals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that African American and Latino children are 1.5 and 2.5 times more likely than white children to have tooth decay, respectively.

Give kids a smile Day
Kelly & Massa
Temple dental faculty and students, including third-year students Danielle Green (left) and Raj Patel, treated local elementary school students in the pediatric dental clinic at the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry as part of national Give Kids a Smile Day.

“It’s so important for children to establish good oral hygiene practices early,” said Ivonne Ganem, assistant professor and acting chair of the Department of Dental Public Health Sciences at Kornberg. “Programs like Give Kids a Smile help us show these children how to do that.”

Ganem has participated in Give Kids a Smile Day for the past five years, which occurs in the first week of February to kick off Pediatric Dental Health Month. This is the third year Temple has held an event.