USC University of Southern California

Ostrow School of Dentistry Celebrates Give Kids a Smile Day

First year pediatric dentistry resident Geraldine Ruiz screens third grader Marilyn Beltran as Neighborhood Mobile Clinic Co-Director Carlos Sanchez takes notes.

On February 3, the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC took part in the national Give Kids a Smile Day service event by providing free dental screenings and oral health education to local elementary school kids.

This year – the 10th year of participation for the Ostrow School of Dentistry – dental hygiene students, doctor of dental surgery students, pediatric dentistry residents, and faculty provided 630 children at Foshay Learning Center with oral health education and supplies and screened 85 children for dental problems.

The Neighborhood Mobile Clinic will also return to the school this week to provide preventive treatment to nearly 20 children identified during the screenings, and several children with pressing dental concerns received vouchers for care in the Ostrow School of Dentistry Pediatric Dental Clinic.

Brandon Gire, a first-year pediatric dentistry resident, was one of the students who donned the “Mr. Molar” costume and helped kids get enthusiastic about taking care of their teeth.

“There’s a lot of things we can do to prevent cavities,” Gire said. “As these kids get permanent teeth, it’s important to develop good habits and maintain oral health.”

Navneet Kaur, a third-year DDS student performing oral health screenings, said that Give Kids a Smile Day was not only a good opportunity for the kids but also a great patient care experience for dental and dental hygiene students.

“There is the oral care information they learn from you, but then we learn from them as well,” Kaur said.

Roseann Mulligan, Associate Dean of Community Health Programs and Hospital Affairs, said students and faculty from the Ostrow School of Dentistry are out in the community every day and are committed to providing vital preventive and comprehensive care for kids.

“Our participation in the National Give Kids a Smile event is just one of the many activities we take part in to demonstrate this commitment,” Mulligan said. “Our recently published work that examined over 2400 children in the County of Los Angeles demonstrated that 73 percent of kids had early or frank dental decay. Clearly efforts to prevent such disease have never been as important as they are now.”

“Oral health problems can affect every part of a child’s life, from getting good nutrition to doing well in school,” said Ostrow School of Dentistry Dean Avishai Sadan. “The Ostrow School of Dentistry has made a commitment to doing the right thing and helping everyone have better oral health. Giving kids the resources to adopt healthy habits can help them get ready for a lifetime of success.”