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NYU College of Dentistry Hosts Fifth Annual Give Kids A Smile Day Focusing a Spotlight on a Chronic National Problem

ADA officers, corporate sponsors, policymakers, dental educators, clinicians and even the ADA mascot, Dudley the Dinosaur, were on hand for the Fifth Annual Give Kids A Smile® Day at the NYU College of Dentistry on February 2, 2007.
Leaders in organized dentistry, the corporate sector, public policy, and academic dentistry gathered at the NYU College of Dentistry on February 2, 2007, for the Fifth Annual Give Kids A Smile® Day, a national advocacy and access to dental care day sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), Long Island-based healthcare products distributor Henry Schein, Colgate-Palmolive and the DEXIS Corporation to focus attention on the barriers that poor and uninsured children face in accessing dental care.

The NYU College of Dentistry was the national host site for the event, which officially kicked-off National Children’s Dental Health Month. In addition to the NYU College of Dentistry, 2,000 additional sites across the nation marked Give Kids A Smile® Day, with some 50,000 dental volunteers providing an estimated $75 million in free care.

Dr. Richard I. Vogel, Interim Dean of the NYU College of Dentistry, noted that in our country today, poor and uninsured children suffer disproportionately from untreated dental disease and that minority children are less likely to receive dental care than white children. Approximately one-third of American children are uninsured.

“What today really should be about,” Dean Vogel said, “goes beyond giving care on this day only. It should be about focusing a very large spotlight on healthcare disparities in our country.”

Dr. Kathy Roth, President of the American Dental Association, spoke of the importance of giving underserved children across the country the opportunity to realize their full potential. “We are determined to give these children a start in life toward good oral health. The idea is not just to create happy smiles, it’s to give them quality oral healthcare so that they can spend their lives making the most of opportunities rather than in pain and discomfort and with poor self esteem. ”
Dr. James Bramson, Executive Director of the ADA, said, “The purpose of this program is to focus the nation’s attention on the need for both federal and state support for children’s dental care. If we do that, we in the ADA, our corporate sponsors, and our volunteers can make children’s dental care a priority for our nation.”

New York City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, a staunch supporter of essential dental care for underserved New York City youngsters, agreed that Give Kids A Smile® Day has an important role to play in focusing policymakers’ attention on the ongoing challenges that poor and low-income children face in accessing dental care. “Our responsibility is to make sure that we in government provide the resources needed to expand access to dental care for all youngsters. What we do has a long-term impact on a child’s life and ability to learn and thrive.”

“What this program gives us,” said Stanley Bergman, a founding corporate sponsor of Give Kids A Smile® Day, “is the ability to actually do something about the access issue, to stop talking about it, and start doing something about it.”

Other speakers included Mr. Steve Kess, Chairman of the Give Kids A Smile® National Advisory Board, Dr. Foti Panagakos, Professional Relations, Clinical Studies Director, for Colgate-Palmolive; Mr. Bob Joyce, President, Americas, Danaher Dental Equipment Platform, representing the DEXIS Corporation, and Dr. Amr Moursi, Professor and Chairman of the NYU Department of Pediatric Dentistry, who noted that in national surveys, parents say that of all their children’s healthcare needs, dental care is the most difficult to access.

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