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VCU Dental Care serves underinsured families at annual Give Kids a Smile event

Group of children posing in dental costumes, like a toothbrush and a molar.

By John Wallace

Last Friday, 76 children from local families received free oral health care at the VCU Dental Care Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. Part of the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile initiative, each year students, faculty and staff from VCU School of Dentistry and VCU Dental Care come together to provide oral health care to children who may have otherwise gone untreated. 

“We look forward to this event every year,” said Tiffany Williams, D.D.S., interim director of the Pediatric Dental Residency program at VCU School of Dentistry and pediatric dentist at VCU Dental Care. “We did not have an in-person event last year due to COVID and we couldn’t be quite as festive as we had hoped this year, but the passion and purpose remained the same.”

Each February in honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, dental practices across the country take part in Give Kids a Smile by providing free oral health care to underinsured families. This year, VCU Dental Care provided more than $42,000 worth of free dental care. It was also the first year that the event was held in the new Pediatric Dentistry Clinic in the Children’s Pavilion.  

“There were a wide range of services provided during the day. We performed 95 extractions, placed 21 crowns and addressed numerous cavities with sealants and other processes,” said Carol Caudill, D.D.S., pediatric dentist at VCU Dental Care and assistant professor at VCU School of Dentistry. “Oral health is an important part of overall health for children, and many of these problems likely would have continued to get worse, leading to emergency treatments and missed school.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Children who have poor oral health miss more school and receive lower grades compared to children who don’t. 

“This year was a huge success despite the limitations placed on us by the pandemic, and I want to thank all of the dental students and residents who volunteered and helped make it possible,” said Richard Herrara, clinical manager of VCU Dental Care’s Pediatric Dentistry Clinic. “This day is truly a team effort and I’m proud of everyone involved.”

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