This post was sponsored by Give Kids A Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. First do me a favor before you start reading this post. SMILE. Take one second and smile. I’m trusting you 😉 . It’s Valentine’s Day. For a lot of people that means flowers and dinner. For me, it’s a reminder. Twenty-two years ago, this very day I had my first chemo. When I got sick, my oncologist let me know that my gums and teeth would get a bit weaker because of the treatment – and that it would affect me for life. Because of this I did a lot of research (and I mean A LOT) into how I could keep things as healthy as possible for the ol’ choppers. Luckily, I was old enough to understand what was going on and took the steps to keep my teeth and gums in shape as best I could, but as I gathered information for myself I learned there are a lot of kids who aren’t so lucky when it comes to their own dental health. Give Kids A Smile is changing all that.
Kindergarten and Tooth Decay
Half of kids enter Kindergarten with tooth decay. HALF. It is the number one chronic infectious disease in children. Even with Medicaid availability and the improvements made to dental health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 42% of children between the ages of 2 and 11 and almost 50% of minority, under-served and Medicaid recipients are left with under-treated cavities. This was shocking to me.
Give Kids a Smile – Stepping In
I’m known to say that the biggest of things can start in the smallest of ways and that’s what happened with Give Kids a Smile. A one-day grassroots effort with just fifteen chairs has turned into more than 500,000 volunteers providing free services like education, preventive care, screenings and dental treatments to kids who may not get to otherwise receive these things. We’re talking more than 140,000 dentists alone! Add in some awesome hygienists, dental students, teachers, dental techs and other oral health care professionals and what a force, right?!
Give Kids a Smile – Celebrating 15 Years
This month Give Kids a Smile celebrated their 15th anniversary. Remember that one day effort in 2002? With the support of the American Dental Association it has now expanded into 1,300 events in all 50 states with a reach of over 5.5 million underserved children. How awesome is that?
How You Can Help Give Kids A Smile
So how can YOU help make a difference? First start with those you know. Make sure the kiddos are flossing and brushing those pearly whites twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Keep those meals healthy and don’t skip the annual dentist appointments! You can find oral health care providers by visiting ADAFoundation.org/GKAS and clicking the “Find Dental Care for Your Child” section. If you’d like to volunteer or donate to help fight the tooth decay epidemic visit the Give Kids A Smile Website and be sure to give them a follow on Facebook to keep up with the latest news and events.
Thank a Dentist
Lastly, you all, please thank a dentist. Often we take something as simple as our smile for granted. Once in awhile, stop and grin. However random. And remember how good it feels. I know if it weren’t for my dentist (shout-out to Dr. N) I probably wouldn’t love this photo as much as I do. I was a kid myself when I got sick the first time – 18. There are a lot of kids who dream about smiling this big on their own wedding days. Thanks to Give Kids A Smile they will.