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Rural Dentistry Program

February 5, 2019 - 3:33pm

Every year, the University at Buffalo’s Dental School participates in a national event called “Give Kids a Smile Day,” in which children ages 1 to 18 who do not have access to dental care can receive free dental services.

This year, the Dental School has chosen Batavia city schools to participate in the event on Saturday, Feb. 9. These include Batavia City School District, Notre Dame High School and St. Joseph’s Regional School.

Coordinating the event is Paula Fischer, Rural Dentistry Program project coordinator at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, and a Batavia resident. Also a resident of Batavia is Dr. Joseph Zambon, dean of the Dental School.

It is not too late to sign up for the free program, Fischer said.

A bus will leave the parking lot at JCPenney at 9 a.m. to take children to Buffalo. Fidelis, a major event sponsor, has made the bus available, Fischer said.

To sign up, call Paula Fischer at (716) 829-6240.

UB Dental’s Give Kids a Smile event offers free dental care, including exams, cleanings, fillings, extractions and orthodontic consultations (braces).

In addition, other services offered are hearing and vision screenings and healthy eating demos. Every child and parent will receive oral health supplies and lunch bag.

Both Zambon and Fischer grew up in Batavia and are thrilled to be able to offer this free service to their community.

“Every year the dental schools GKAS event grows, and this year we were discussing expanding its reach, and I immediately thought of Batavia,” Fischer said. “I reside in Batavia with my family and I currently serve on the City of Batavia Youth Board.

"My children attended John Kennedy Elementary, St. Joseph Regional School and Notre Dame High School. I reached out to Wade Bianco, Karen Green and Julia Rogers to assist with getting the word out. They were excited to offer this opportunity to their students and families.”

The first Give Kids a Smile Day started in 2002 in St. Louis, Mo., where free dental care was delivered to nearly 400 children. The American Dental Association 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, Fischer said. 

So, in 2003, Give Kids a Smile evolved into a nationwide program with the collaboration of the American Dental Association, Henry Schein, Proctor & Gamble and DEXIS. UB Dental School has been participating since 2003. Thousands of dentists and volunteers give their time to provide free oral health education, screenings and treatment to underserved children, Fischer said.

Since 2003, more than 5.5 million children have been cared for by more than half a million volunteers.

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