Children's Dental Day
In the fall of 2001, the UNMC College of Dentistry made a commitment and started a program to devote its entire Lincoln facility, students, staff and faculty for a full day to provide dental screening, diagnosis, cleaning and care to underserved children in Nebraska. Children come typically from non-fluoridated communities and have little or no access to dental care. They are usually identified by district health departments, often working in conjunction with school nurses and other care givers. These volunteers coordinate the children’s participation with the informed consent process which requires the parent/guardian to give written consent and to provide a health history for the child. The local volunteers also arrange with local dentists to provide a screening examination, at which X-rays are taken and a preliminary diagnosis and treatment plan is developed. The college is indebted to the local organizers and volunteers and to the local dentists for their willingness to participate in the Children’s Dental Day program.
The COD holds Children’s Dental Day twice a year. The first Friday in February has been designated by the American Dental Association’s Give Kids A Smile Day (GKAS) at which time thousands of dental institutions and offices set aside time and resources to treat underserved children. GKAS was started in 2003 with sponsorship provided by the ADA, Henry Schein, Proctor and Gamble and DEXIS. Since 2003, over 4.4 million children nationwide have received care from over a half million volunteers. The COD has hosted Dental Day since the fall of 2001 is proud to be part of such a successful national program.
For the February program, children from all over eastern Nebraska are identified, screened and come to the college for a full day. The COD provides transportation for some of the larger communities and in other cases a local agency provides transportation or the families bring the children. About 200 children are scheduled for procedures ranging from cleaning to restorations, extractions, pulpotomies, stainless steel crowns and even root canal therapy for some of the older children. Emergency care is provided and patient education is always emphasized. Besides clinical dental procedures, the children are able to take part in educational games and activities designed to increase their awareness of oral health and the importance of taking care of their teeth while they are young.
The second event annually associated with the college’s Children’s Dental Day has been held in the Nebraska Panhandle on the first weekend in June since 2004. The college transports students, faculty and staff, and portable equipment to four sites in the panhandle, and provides dental services from private offices, and two local hospitals. The locations are Sidney, Alliance, Chadron and Gordon. Again about 200 children are seen among the four locations. The Panhandle District Health Department is a major contributor to this program and helps coordinate many of the activities ranging from identifying the children to arranging logistics for the 60-plus participants from the COD. Again the college is indebted to the volunteer health department staff and the local dentists who open their offices for a day and a half and help supervise our students.
Since inception, the COD has treated over 4,500 children and provided services valued at over $2M to low income and underserved children in Nebraska.
Children’s Dental Day is sponsored by donations. If you would like to support this valuable program, please make a donation through the Nebraska Foundation to the Dental College.