In February, some dentists in South Brunswick will join up with thousands of dentists on the U.S. and their dental team members to help provide a smile to underprivileged children.
Each year in February, participating dentists through the American Dental Association (ADA) provide free oral health care services to children from low-income families across the country as part of the Give Kids A Smile program. Locally, South Brunswick's in Dayton will hold their Give Kids a Smile event on Feb. 3.
"What we're going to do here in our office is schedule a time to look at each child and see what their needs are, give them a cleaning and if they need fillings we'll do our best to accommodate them," said dental hygienist Palma D’Angelo. "Some may need extractions or further care, and they will be referred to different types of clinics. But most facilities give whatever care they can on that day."
As part of last year's event, over 9,000 dentists nationwide treated about 401,000 children during Give Kids a Smile, according to the ADA. The program is so vital for the less fortunate to receive important care they may otherwise not have the means to obtain.
"I think everybody needs good dental care because a lot of people have medical care, but dental care is something that sometimes falls by the wayside and is usually the first thing that's gone as jobs decrease," D’Angelo said. "It's so important to have good dental care because you need your teeth for everyday simple things like eating and talking. In the old days people only really went to the dentist if they had a problem, but it's important to try and prevent any problems from developing so they don't become major issues."
Through the work of volunteers, kids may be eligible to receive oral hygiene instructions, screenings, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, extractions, fluoride treatments, stainless steel crowns, and much more, according to the ADA.
Emmy Award-winning actress Julia Barr from the soap opera All My Children has signed on as the celebrity spokesperson for New Jersey’s Give Kids a Smile campaign. Barr has been featured in public service announcements that will run through January and February.
Barr's husband, oral surgeon Dr. Richard Hirschlag, is one of the dentists volunteering his time for the Doctors of Dental Medicine.
“I am so happy to be a part of this important program that makes a difference for children in New Jersey," Barr said via release. "I am proud of the work my husband does to help serve the mission of the campaign, and I was honored when the NJ Dental Association asked me to tape these PSAs and get involved. I hope it elevates even more awareness for the cause."
For information about eligibility and participation contact the New Jersey Dental Association at (732) 821-9400 or visit www.njda.org.
"This is such a great thing to give to the community for people who don't have the means, especially because it helps children," D’Angelo said.