Give Kids a Smile is a collaboration of community partners, including Public Health Department representatives (left) and school nurses (right).
Give Kids a Smile is a collaboration of community partners, including Public Health Department representatives (left) and school nurses (right).

50 Children Get Dental Care Thanks to Give Kids a Smile

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 6/19/2018 10:54:21 AM

Community comes together to help children with unmet dental needs.


Fifty San Luis Obispo County children in need of dental care received treatment at the recent Give Kids a Smile day, and many more were treated—at no cost to their families—in the weeks surrounding the event. Each child left with a connection to a long-term "dental home" to get ongoing care.

That means more than 50 children are now free to learn and play without the persistent pain of a toothache, and more than 50 parents and caregivers are free from the worry of how to find a dentist to provide regular care for their child.

Give Kids a Smile is a community collaboration led by the Central Coast Dental Society, presented with support from the Public Health Department's Children's Medical Services team and Oral Health Program, community organizations and individual volunteers. The event was hosted in the offices of Drs. Copp, Barbieri, Roberts and Marcum in San Luis Obispo and the Tolosa Children's Dental Center in Paso Robles. In one day, Give Kids a Smile provided:

  • 50 dental exams, with individual education on oral hygiene
  • 50 dental X-rays
  • 48 cleanings
  • 48 fluoride varnish treatments
  • 34 restorations with fillings
  • 27 dental sealants
  • 27 extractions of primary teeth
  • 6 restorations with crowns

This service was possible thanks to a generous team of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental students, school nurses, public health nurses and others. The total value of the care provided was more than $26,000.

Children were referred to the event by school nurses following a quick dental screening at school. Children with severe dental needs who were not able to attend the event were connected with treatment on another day.

Why is an event like Give Kids a Smile needed? Nationwide, dental care is the most prevalent unmet health need for children in low-income families and children with special needs. This holds true in SLO County, where many children enrolled in Denti-Cal (the dental program of Medi-Cal) do not have access to regular dental care because of a shortage of dentists who accept Denti-Cal.

The Public Health Department's Oral Health Program recently received two grants—more than $3 million in total—to expand access to dental care while building a comprehensive oral health system of care for SLO County children. Learn more about this work to bring dental care to more SLO County children.

Tremendous thanks to the many individual dental professionals who donated their time to Give Kids a Smile, and to the Central Coast Dental Society for leading this collaboration.

If you know a child who has unmet dental needs (such as pain or tooth decay) and limited access to dental care, contact the Public Health Department's Oral Health Program at 805-781-5503 to learn about available services and help connect the child with dental care.