Volunteers Support Smiles for Children, Veterans and Others in Need

group of Give Kids a Smile volunteers

Nearly 250 children, military veterans and individuals with disabilities recently received the gift of free oral health screenings and services during three community health events organized by the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in partnership with several community groups. Dental students, residents, faculty and staff teamed up to create welcoming and fun events that supported the health of attendees from across the Bay Area.

San Francisco Outreach

On Feb. 3, the “Give Kids a Smile” dental health fair with a superhero theme was held at the Dugoni School’s Hutto Patterson Pediatric Dentistry Clinic in downtown San Francisco. Kids up to age 17 received free dental check-ups, cleanings and fluoride treatment, and enjoyed educational games, a photo booth, face painting, music and more. Volunteers from the school’s Pediatric Dentistry Study Club and Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) organization, as well as faculty and staff from the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic, brought healthy smiles to the children and parents who attended.

Nearly 100 children received donated services and care estimated at approximately $26,000 in value.

kid in dentist's chair

“It was such an amazing opportunity to help organize the GKAS event,” said student volunteer Sarah Takahashi, DDS Class of 2024. “Seeing all of my classmates come together for such a great cause was a really heartwarming experience. I wanted to get involved because I love working with children and thought it would be a great way to give back to our local community. It was truly rewarding to educate and provide dental care to so many kids. A lot of the children wanted to become patients of the school, so it was awesome to see them find a permanent dental home with us!”

"Working alongside Sarah as one of the student leaders for Give Kids a Smile was one of the most rewarding experiences in my dental career,” added Taylor O'Reilly, DDS Class of 2024. “When Fedeliza from the Pediatric Department told us about the event and the impact they were hoping to make, Sarah and I didn't hesitate in stepping forward to recruit and organize the volunteers they needed. It was inspiring seeing over 100 students enthusiastically volunteer for the event and contribute not only their time, but also their ideas and passion to help others. The clinic was full of smiles, laughter and care that day. I look forward to seeing the ongoing success of this annual event for years to come."

The Dugoni School began holding the Give Kids a Smile events in 2010 as part of the national initiative launched by the American Dental Association more than 20 years ago. 

Union City Outreach

The Dugoni School’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) team partnered with the Southern Alameda County Dental Society (SACDS) and Eden Area Regional Occupational Program Center to hold “Give Special Kids a Smile” at the Union City Dental Care Center on Feb. 2. Volunteers offered free dental screenings for 70 children and adults with physical and/or mild developmental disabilities. Each patient received a free dental screening and a free dental health kit with toothbrush, paste, floss and other goodies. Many also received treatment procedures. Attendees were comforted by therapy dogs provided by the Valley Humane Society and therapy ponies by the Sonrise Equestrian Foundation.

Therapy dog at “Give Special Kids a Smile” (photo courtesy of SACDS)

Therapy dog at “Give Special Kids a Smile” (photo courtesy of SACDS)

On Saturday, Feb. 3, the Union City Dental Care Center also hosted the “Give Veterans a Smile” event in partnership with the Southern Alameda County Dental Society, East Bay Stand Down, Blue Star Moms and Eden Area ROP. Volunteers provided free oral oral health kits and dental services, including teeth restoration, extractions, fillings and denture repairs, to 67 military veterans.

One veteran who served in the Air Force was referred to Give Veterans a Smile by Swords to Plowshares in Oakland. “They did a filling...they did all this in two hours,” he said, gesturing towards his mouth. “There was no pain involved. It was amazing. Everybody was amazing.”

Both Union City events were supported by volunteer dentists from the community, dental auxiliary team members and other volunteers.

Nearly $61,000 in care was provided across both days, according to the SACDS.

In addition to providing screenings and care at outreach events held both on and off campus, the Dugoni School offers a wide range of affordable oral health care services for the public on an on-going basis. To learn more about services, visit the school’s dental services website.

“Give Veterans a Smile” (photo courtesy of SACDS)

“Give Veterans a Smile” (photo courtesy of SACDS) 


Video: Cameras, Costumes, Fun at Give Kids a Smile