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*This post was sponsored by Give Kids a Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
With eight kids of my own, I am all too familiar with the costs involved in keeping kids healthy. I also have firsthand knowledge of what a struggle it can be for parents who want to get their kids the medical care they need but have limited funds to do so. This includes dental care.
I think dental care is one of those things that we don’t often think about as being an important part of the overall picture of kids’ health. However, kids who don’t have proper dental care are at a disadvantage in so many ways that have absolutely nothing to do with their teeth.
In fact, children with untreated tooth decay are found to have more school absences, difficulty paying attention in school, and have a lower self-esteem. These statistics are a bit scary, aren’t they?
Yet, half of all kindergartners start the school year with tooth decay. Statistics show that tooth decay affects 42 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11, which was downright startling to me.
It is with this in mind that a group of dentists established Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) as a single, one-day volunteer event in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2002. During that event, the group set up 15 dental chairs to provide dental care to nearly 400 kids with harmful cases of tooth decay, free of charge.
Give Kids A Smile Day, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Davie, Fla., February 5, 2016. Photo credit: ADA Foundation.”
This single event was so successful that the American Dental Association took the lead in launching a national program. As a result, that grassroots campaign has now grown substantially as GKAS is now the largest children’s oral health charitable program in the United States. Since that first event in St. Louis, this charitable program has now reached more than 5.5 million children in need.
These days, more than 1,300 GKAS events take place across the country with more than 500,000 volunteers including almost 140,000 dentists giving of their time and resources at thousands of locations across the country. Not only do the children who attend receive the screening and treatment they need, but they also receive vital education about oral care that they may not receive otherwise.
Most years around the holidays, you will find my family putting together some personal care kits including shampoo, soap, and a washcloth in addition to floss, a toothbrush, and toothpaste for people in need within our community. My kids LOVE doing this, and we talk about who our kits might be reaching as we work. We know that there are people who receive our care packages who just go without these needed items otherwise.
Whether or not you are doing something like we do around the holidays (or any time of the year), you can be a part of bringing proper oral care to the forefront by making sure your kids and the kids around you have proper oral care habits. But, like anything else, we as parents have to teach them.
Here’s how we make caring for their teeth fun and effective for our kids.
- have them choose their own toothbrush
- each kid also chooses their own toothpaste
- these things are kept in their own small cup on the bathroom counter (you can find really cute cups!)
- provide them with the fun floss sticks for flossing
- teach them to sing the alphabet song through three times SLOWLY so they are not rushing
- younger kids are supervised either by a parent or older sibling
- make teeth brushing and oral care part of their morning and evening routine
If your kids or other kids you know need oral care, visit ADAFoundation.org/GKAS and choose “Find Dental Care For Your Child” for a list of available resources. You can also call 1-844-490-GKAS (4527) to see if there is a GKAS program near you. You can also visit and like their awesome Facebook page HERE.
As parents, we want to provide our kids with the things they need to be healthy and happy. Be sure your kids, their friends, and other kids you know are getting the oral care they need.