11/8/2011 – Give Kids a Smile Hosts 20th Consecutive Free Dental Clinic, Succeeds at Providing 10,632 Kids With $4.6 Million in Free Care

ST. LOUIS, MO., Nov. 8, 2011 … Teeth that have never been cleaned, mouths full of cavities and decay, kids with no self-esteem, tears from ongoing pain, severe infections and children who simply refuse to smile – These are just a few of the many heart-breaking realities faced at Give Kids A Smile’s (GKAS) clinics, where volunteer dental professionals lent their time and talents to provide comprehensive dental care services, at no charge, to children who are in need. The most recent clinic, held Oct. 28 and 29, marked the 10th anniversary of GKAS and the 20th consecutive free dental clinic hosted by this organization that continues to make a very tangible and transformational impact on countless kids across the region.

 At each clinic, approximately 600 infants, toddlers and school-aged children are seen by dental professionals. Comprehensive services include X-rays, professional cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants, as well as restorations, endodontics and oral surgery as needed. Those under age 4 received special, age-appropriate care in the Tiny Smiles area of the clinic. Those in need of extensive dental services that cannot be completed within the allotted clinic timeframe can obtain the needed, and often critical, follow-up care at no cost through one of the many private dental offices enrolled in GKAS’s Smile Factories program. To date, GKAS has provided 10,632 local children with $4.6 million in services with the help of more than 8,900 volunteers.

“The services provided to visiting children are critical,” commented Tom Flavin, DDS, president of Give Kids A Smile and one of the founders of the program. “Dental disease among kids from low income families is an epidemic and, unfortunately, a distinct lack of access exists for these individuals.”

 Most state Medicaid budgets allocate two percent or less for dental services. And, in the state of Missouri it is less than one percent. Children with untreated dental decay can’t eat or sleep properly or concentrate in school, if they even go to school. It also profoundly affects them from an emotional standpoint.

 “Our goal is really very simple,” adds Flavin. “We are looking to bridge that gap and provide quality dental services to those who need it. The results are hard to sum up in words – and the impact goes way beyond the numbers. We have

alleviated pain, removed severely rotted teeth, filled cavities and re-established positive self-images for thousands and thousands of young St. Louisans; not to mention our success in educating children and families and getting them to adopt and maintain good, daily oral health habits. We’re really giving children and families a reason to smile.”

 Give Kids A Smile was developed through the creativity and passion of five dedicated St. Louis dental professionals in 2002. Its clinics are executed year after year thanks to the volunteerism, donations and financial assistance received from local and national companies and organizations. The impact of this program was so profound from the onset that the American Dental Association (ADA) adopted the program in 2003 in an effort to help communities nationwide emulate this care in their local areas. In total, the ADA helps to establish approximately 1,800 events of varying sizes nationwide, reaching nearly 450,000 children each year. The St. Louis clinic continues to serve as the nation’s largest clinic and is the only one held twice a year.

  This year, eight individuals from cities nationwide received a grant to take part in the GKAS University program, allowing them to receive hands-on training in the inner-workings of the highly successful and well established St. Louis program.

 “It is important to note that while major dental work is accomplished during clinic visits, we also go to great lengths to create a loving atmosphere featuring tons of fun entertainment and activities,” commented Joan Allen, executive director of Give Kids A Smile.

 Delta Dental of Missouri’s fun-loving characters including the Tooth Wizard, Panda and Spanish-speaking Tooth Fairy, along with a juggler, strolled the clinic floor, while face painters, balloon artists, games and music captivated the kids in Delta Dental’s entertainment area. Children left with prizes, a dental care kit, a nutritious sack lunch and a children’s book donated by the St. Louis County Library Foundation.

  Give Kids A Smile generally focuses on children (infants through eighth graders) who are eligible for Medicaid or who qualify for the free or reduced rate school lunch program, but does entertain requests from families who have a need for assistance due to special circumstances. To learn more about Give Kids A Smile and the upcoming clinic, call 636-397-6453 or visit www.gkas.org.

 Give Kids a Smile was developed by Jeffrey Dalin, DDS; B. Ray Storm, DDS; Tom Flavin, DDS; Mark Ortinau, DDS and Jan Storm, RDHB, in February 2002to provide children of families who cannot currently afford dental care with access to the benefits of modern dentistry. GKAS has been made possible thanks to major local contributors including Delta Dental of Missouri, Keller Dental Laboratory, Saint Louis University’s Center for Advanced Dental Education, the Missouri Dental Association, Patterson Dental, Goetze Dental, Guardian Life Insurance and First Pacific Corporation and others. As well as through the support of the Greater St. Louis Dental Society and Young Dental and national sponsors Colgate, Henry Shein Dental and Dexis.

For Immediate Release

To learn more, contact:

Kelly Harris, The Hauser Group, 314.436.9090 (o), 314.898.8116 (c), Kelly@HauserGroupPR.com

Joan Allen, Give Kids A Smile, 636.397.6453 (o)