Every Child Deserves a Healthy Smile, Give Kids a Smile

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.

A child’s smile is worth so much. My two daughters are happy girls with more giggles and smiles shared than I could possibly ask for. They are my great love story and every smile adds to our happiness. My daughters are proud of their beautiful bright smiles but there are many children that are not. Sadly too many children continue to suffer with tooth decay, the number one chronic infectious disease among children in the U.S. Even with the availability of Medicaid and improvements in children’s dental care under the Affordable Care Act, tooth decay affects 42 percent of children aged 2 to 11 years old and almost 50 percent of minority, underserved, and Medicaid recipients suffer from untreated cavities. Give Kids A Smile is making a difference and this year is celebrating their 15th anniversary. 

give kids a smile

Since I was pregnant with my first daughter I have maintained a family blog journaling every significant moment including discovering first baby teeth. My oldest daughter was just one year old during her very first visit to the dentist and I detailed the full appointment on my family blog.

January 20, 2010

Today was Gabriella’s first dentist appointment. I had been examining Gabriella’s teeth everyday since I discovered one growing in a little crooked. I was really excited to go to the appointment with my questions. The dentist was fantastic! He was great with Gabriella. Regardless of how nice he was, Gabriella did not enjoy the visit! They hoped to take two xrays but Gabriella was only cooperative for one. The doctor had me hold Gabriella against me and then lean her back for the exam. She screamed hysterically the entire time he was checking out her teeth. Her screaming was actually a good thing because it kept her mouth open for the dentist. Turns out her tooth is growing in crooked because she has an extra baby tooth. You are only supposed to have four teeth between your canines but Gabriella has five. The dentist said only about 5% of people have extra teeth. For now we are leaving it alone but at some point it may need to be pulled. The dentist told us there is a short time frame in which we can pull it and eliminate an extra permanent tooth growing in. As she gets older an xray will be able to determine if a permanent tooth is behind the extra baby tooth. For the time being Gabriella might have some crooked baby teeth because of crowding. 

Every six months my daughter had dental appointments for teeth cleaning and x-rays. The dentist gave her silly sunglasses to wear and the office was decorated with fish. She grew to love visiting the dentist so much more than that first visit. I also very much appreciated the visits because it gave me the reassurance she was receiving preventative care and oral health education at a very young age. These are privileges some children and parents never have the opportunity to experience. 

dentist visit

Half of all children enter kindergarten with tooth decay resulting in more school absences, trouble paying attention and low self esteem. My daughter lost her first tooth at five years old before she began kindergarten. Instead of leaving her tooth under her pillow she wrote a note to the tooth fairy.

Hi Dear tooth fairy,

Please do not

take my tooth

I will keep it safe.

I really love

my tooth

Love, Gabriella

The tooth fairy did not take her tooth that night and left a $1 golden coin.

tooth fairy letter

She has lost many more teeth since and finally trusts the tooth fairy.

first lost front tooth

Give Kids A Smile started with an event servicing 400 children by providing dental care in St. Louis 2002. Now celebrating their 15th year of service, through the dedication of volunteers and the support of the American Dental Association, the organization has provided dental care to more than 5.5 million children that otherwise would not ever see a dentist at over 1,300 events.

give kids a smile logo

This year our youngest daughter fell in a bathtub and chipped three teeth. The fall was extremely scary as we did not know if her injury was more than just cosmetic. Baby sister had her first dental visit with the same dentist that has been seeing her big sister for many years. It was a great relief to hear she had only chipped her teeth and, unless we wanted to, did not need any additional dental care consequently. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to take my children to the dentist and provide them with proper oral hygiene. Because of Give Kids A Smile, many families that would otherwise not receive oral health services, have the opportunity for free education, screening, preventive care, and dental treatment. More than half a million volunteers including dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental technicians, dental office staff, dental students, teachers, parents, school nurses, and many other community health professionals, have given their time and talents to make the events possible. 

Give kids a smile eventGive Kids A Smile Day, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Davie, Fla., February 5, 2016. Photo credit: ADA Foundation

What can you do to help?

  • Make sure the kids around you know to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, eat healthy meals, and visit their dentist once a year.
  • Learn more about dental health tips at the Mouth Healthy website.
  • Thank a dentist for volunteering to help kids in need.
  • If your child needs oral health care, visit ADAFoundation.org/GKAS and click β€œFind Dental Care for Your Child” for a list of resources. Or, call 1-844-490-GKAS (4527) to see if there is a GKAS program available in your area.
  • Donate to your time or funds to support Give Kids A Smile.

Learn more about Give Kids A Smile by connecting with them on Facebook.

every child deserves a healthy smile

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I really needed to read this post today. I struggle so much with getting my 3yo to let me help him brush his teeth. It’s always a huge issue for us and some days I wonder if it’s worth the struggle. I’m refocused on making sure we make his teeth a priority!

  2. 3

    says

    I love, love, love that you say your girls are your great love story!

    When my son was really young, he’d cry when he had to go into the bathroom to brush. Never understood why he hated it so much, but I pushed through it every day. Oral hygiene for kids is so important, no way could I quit even when I wanted to.

  3. 5

    robin masshole mommy says

    This is great. Oral health is SOOOOO important and as parents we need to instill this in our kids early on.

  4. 7

    says

    Oral health is super important, and when I worked at the school, I was heartbroken to see all the silver smiles smiling at me. I didn’t understand how the kids just didn’t brush their teeth, and how their parents had let them get like that.

    • 8

      says

      Agreed, oral health is so important! Don’t let those silver caps automatically make you think they are because parents didn’t take care of their teeth. It kills me that my baby girl might end up with caps on her chipped teeth as she grows because I know the first impression is exactly that – the parents didn’t teach good health habits.

  5. 9

    says

    It’s so important to take care of our teeth, kids and adults. And instilling good fun dental visits as kids is important. I’m putting off getting my wisdom teeth out, but I know it needs doing!

  6. 11

    says

    Dental care is so important. I have super sensitive teeth, and I hope my kids don’t get that from me. I make sure my daughter brushes twice a day and try to let her know how important it is.

  7. 15

    says

    I’ve heard about this organization and I think it’s awesome that they’re celebrating 15 years of helping kids out. Dental health is something that I value and I make sure my kids take good care of their teeth. It would be nice to help support a movement like this!

  8. 17

    says

    This seems like an amazing initiative! I’m so happy that you’ve made your post so meaningful by sharing your personal experiences with your own children to show how important it is to support the movement πŸ™‚

  9. 21

    reesann723 says

    What a special campaign! I couldn’t imagine a child who couldn’t have the confidence and happiness that a smile brings!

  10. 23

    says

    I didn’t know so many kids were suffering from this! I am glad to know that Give Kids a Smile does such an important labor with children that can’t afford it… I hope many more can have access to it soon πŸ™‚

    Carlota | TheWandereuse.com

  11. 25

    Jeanine says

    This is really a great campaign. Dental health is so very important. My kids go every 6 months and couldn’t imagine them not being able to, its a must.

  12. 27

    says

    Dental hygiene is so important. I grew up in a very similar way. I loved my dentist. They would always take our picture and pin it on their wall. Although I’ve grown and moved out of state, I’m still in contact with my childhood dentist.

  13. 29

    says

    LOVE this campaign for kids dental health! Its so super important to have healthy teeth. Its incredible what happens when even ONE tooth is decayed/bad and how that affects your OVERALL health.

  14. 33

    Jennifer Marx (JenuineMom) says

    This is wonderful! Love this campaign to help out kids learn good oral hygiene. I hope more kids can benefit from this in the future!

  15. 35

    Tereza says

    Awh your girls look so lovely, such sweethearts! Love the campaign – what a brilliant idea, kids dental hygiene doesn’t get half as much attention it should, especially here in the UK x

  16. 37

    says

    My mom is a retired dental hygienist, so oral health has always been talked about in our home. It is amazing how many kids don’t have good oral health habits. I definitely think education is key!

    • 42

      says

      I can’t believe I agreed to her keeping her tooth! And can you believe the tooth fairy actually left a golden coin that night? This girl is so funny!