In 2002, Drs. Jeff Dalin and B. Ray Storm held the first Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS) event in a run-down soon-to-be-demolished dental clinic in St. Louis, where 15 patient chairs were scraped together to deliver free dental care to nearly 400 children.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recognized that this grassroots effort had great potential to raise awareness nationally about the importance of oral health to overall health, and about the staggering need that exists among millions of children who go without care. So in 2003, Give Kids A Smile evolved into a nationwide program with the collaboration of the ADA, Henry Schein, Procter & Gamble, and DEXIS.
Today, Give Kids A Smile is the ADA Foundation’s signature access to oral health care program for underserved children, with events taking place throughout the year. These events kick off annually on the first Friday in February, which is Give Kids A Smile Day. Thousands of dentists and volunteers give their time to provide free oral health education, screenings, and treatment to underserved children.
Since 2003, more than 5.5 million children have been cared for by more than half a million volunteers.
Give Kids A Smile remains a critical piece of the ADA’s Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis facing America today. It is designed to address the dental health crisis in three distinct areas: 1. Provide care now to people who are suffering from untreated disease; 2. Strengthen and expand the public/private safety net; and 3. Bring disease prevention and education into communities.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to Give Kids A Smile's success!