The Harvard Dental Center’s Teaching Practices clinic was buzzing with excitement and activity on Saturday, February 8, as young patients streamed in to receive free dental care at HSDM’s annual Give Kids a Smile event. Nearly 40 children ages one to 17 were seen for dental exams, cleanings, and treatment.
“This was a fabulous event,” said Laverne Agard, a parent who brought her two children. “This was their first time at the dentist. The dentists were patient and made it fun.”
Give Kids a Smile is part of a program that was launched by the American Dental Association to promote oral health for children nationwide. HSDM’s event was organized by predoctoral students Emily Chen, DMD 21, Jennifer Lee, DMD21, Ethan Tan, DMD22, Ruchika Agrawal, DMD22, Jessica Murphree, DMD23, and Alisha Nanji, DMD23. The organizers brought together more than 40 of their classmates, as well as pediatric dentistry residents and faculty from Boston Children’s Hospital and HSDM to participate.
“Seeing the smiles of the patients and their parents makes every Give Kids a Smile event so worth the months of planning. This year, I was extremely proud of my peers, as a record number volunteered their time to provide healthier smiles for these kids,” said Emily Chen.
In addition to receiving dental care, patients had the opportunity to be fitted for custom mouth guards and also participate in educational games, dental arts and crafts, and face painting.
“The Give Kids a Smile leadership team is proud to organize the annual event at HSDM. It allows HSDM students and faculty to provide comprehensive dental care to pediatric patients and to promote oral health in the greater Boston community,” said Jennifer Lee.
Some families made a day of it. “It’s our day out,” said the father of seven-year-old Abrahim Dagher. Abrahim was getting fitted for a custom mouthguard that he’ll use when playing soccer, as his two siblings had their teeth cleaned. Afterward the family gathered to enjoy snacks and activities with HSDM students.
“My hope is that we have a positive impact far greater than one day of dental care by emphasizing the need for a dental home and providing oral health education to both parents and kids,” Chen said.