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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

This year’s theme is “Brush, Floss, Smile!” as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month. Give Kids a Smile Day is a program of the American Dental Association Foundation that launched in 2003, where events are held nationally to promote pediatric oral health and ensure children have access to a dental home. The UIC COD Department of Pediatric Dentistry participated annually until COVID led to a three-year hiatus. On Thursday, February 2, the Department of Pediatric Dentistry resumed activities and hosted more than 60 kindergarten, second grade, and sixth grade students from St. Malachy School. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of Dr. Sahar Alrayyes and Khatija Noorullah, children received oral health education, dental screenings, and enjoyed interactive activities with pre-dental, pre-doctoral, and post-graduate students, faculty, and the tooth fairy.  For some children, this may be their first visit to the dentist, and we ensure it is a positive one.

Eighteen years ago, the UIC College of Dentistry held its first Give Kids A Smile Day event at the pediatric dentistry clinic, where over 100 underserved children and children with special health care needs received free oral health care.  Give Kids A Smile Day attests to the commitment of the college to serving our community, and how our dental students, residents, staff and faculty are always eager to making a difference.  Over the years, the College provided free care for students of various schools including: Easter Seals School, Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education, Children of Peace, and St. Malachy.

“We were excited to open the doors again and look forward to helping even more children next year,” said Dr. David Avenetti, Head of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. More importantly, the Department of Pediatric Dentistry plans to address the oral health needs of these children and other children in the community long after National Children’s Dental Health Month is over. The Department of Pediatric Dentistry is the largest Medicaid provider of pediatric oral health care services in Illinois. In 2022, the Department had more than 20,000 patient visits. For those without regular access to care, community outreach provides a way for children to receive necessary diagnostics, preventive, and restorative care. Thank you to the volunteers and children who made this a successful event!