PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Friday, February 3, 2017, NHSC participated in the annual Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Day. For the past fourteen (14) years, NHSC has provided dental screenings for hundreds of residents in Union County, New Jersey. GKAS program was started by the American Dental Association in 2003 and has been sponsored by the New Jersey Dental Association (NJDA) throughout the State of New Jersey since its inception. Each year, NJDA supports participating locations in the State and collaborates with Colgate and Henry Schein to provide dental supplies (tooth brushes, tooth paste, bibs, gauze, fluoride and prophy angles) to assist with the dental screenings performed at the event.
Nearly one in four children aged two (2) to eleven (11) years old has untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many children enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental services throughout the year. GKAS is held annually to: 1) provide free and easily accessible dental services to qualifying individuals; 2) raise awareness of the epidemic of untreated dental disease occurring locally and nationally and 3) create local public and private partnerships to increase access to oral health care to solve this crisis.
A total of 88 children attended the event at NHSC’s two (2) Union County, New Jersey locations. Sixty-seven (67) were treated at Neighborhood Health Center Plainfield (NHCP) while 21 children were treated at Neighborhood Health Center Elizabeth (NHCE). Activities included: issuing a Cavity Free Certificate to children with no dental caries, face painting, glitter tattoos, book reading and animated videos. Patient education was provided by NHSC dental providers. United Way of Greater Union County donated funds to purchase healthy snacks, water, decorations and goody bags. Ray’s Pharmacy of Dunellen, donated water and snacks.
Rudine Smith, President/CEO stated that, “NHSC is extremely happy to see the participation of children surpassed last year’s event! She continued, “NHSC is always excited to participate in the annual GKAS! To see so many children, smile after they have completed their screenings was wonderful and reminds us of NHSC’s mission to provide quality oral healthcare services to the many young and beautiful children within our communities. Additionally, follow up appointments produce great clinical outcomes for good oral health.” Ms. Smith thanked, Dr. Jeannine Stephenson-Buffong, NHSC’s Chief of Dentistry and the dental department for organizing the event along with support from Paulette Hussey and the Outreach Department.