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The Power of A Smile: Howard University College of Dentistry Selected to Host National Kick off of 2024 Give Kids A Smile, Feb 1-2

Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2024

Community event will feature free dental services, including dental and orthodontic screenings, cleanings, fluoride treatments for 120 DC Schoolchildren

The American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile® (GKAS) program, one of the largest national initiatives focused on children and dental care, is kicking off at Howard University College of Dentistry on Thursday, Feb. 1 and Friday, Feb. 2, 2024.

The American Dental Association (ADA) launched Give Kids A Smile 22 years ago as a way for dentists across the country to join with others in the community to provide free dental services to underserved children while also highlighting for policy makers the ongoing challenges that underserved families face in finding and affording dental care.

The national Give Kids A Smile kick-off event is held annually at a selected site on the first Friday in February during National Children’s Dental Health Month. Since 2003, thousands of GKAS volunteers have provided free oral health education and services to more than 7 million underserved children throughout the United States. Throughout 2024, GKAS events will take place at schools, universities, health centers, and private dental practices. In addition to providing care, the goal of Give Kids A Smile has become continuity of care – finding dental homes for these families. The Give Kids A Smile program would not be possible without the generosity of long time national sponsors, Henry Schein and Colgate, who provide education and product kits to support Give Kids A Smile events.

“Howard University has been an enthusiastic partner every step of the way, and we are honored to take the lead this year in support of America’s underserved children,” said Andrea D. Jackson, DDS, Dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry. “Each year, Give Kids A Smile provides a powerful platform for us to share the knowledge, teach prevention, and provide treatment to vulnerable children – giving them something to smile about.”

LaToya M. Barham, DDS, associate professor, residency director, and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, said the college is anticipating 100 children across four local schools in the District of Columbia. She said this year’s event will put the spotlight on preventive care and oral health literacy.

“What began as a grassroots effort twenty-three years ago in St. Louis has become a national public private collaboration that ensures access to quality oral health care for all children,” said Dr. Michele Tulak-Gorecki, DDS, chair of the American Dental Association Foundation. “The success of GKAS would not be possible without the nearly 27,000 dental professionals who volunteer at local events each year in addition to national sponsors, Henry Schein and Colgate. My sincere appreciation and thanks to all of you who have been a part of the program, some from the very first day. We are all involved for the right reason – to Give Kids A Smile and help children in need.”

“Since the program’s inception, Henry Schein has been the exclusive product sponsor of Give Kids A Smile, and we are honored to continue to be part of the program’s long-term success,” said Jennifer Kim Field, Chief Sustainability Officer with Henry Schein, Inc. and co-chair of the ADA’s Give Kids A Smile National Advisory Committee. “Together with our valued supplier partners, we are committed to helping expand access to care and enhance oral health literacy for underserved children. Congratulations to the American Dental Association Foundation and all the dental volunteers, dental school faculty, staff, and students who help make one of the largest, charitable dental health programs in the country so successful.”

“As the worldwide leader in oral care and with the Colgate brand found in more homes than any other, Colgate is committed to our purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all,” said Dawna Michelle Fields, Senior Director, Community & Operations, North America, Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Program and National Advisory Committee Member, ADA Give Kids A Smile. “Colgate-Palmolive is proud to be a long-time supporter of the Give Kids A Smile program and promote oral health literacy, which is foundational for children’s overall health and wellbeing.”

Since 2007, Colgate-Palmolive has supported GKAS as the exclusive national sponsor of essential health and hygiene products to help build proper oral hygiene habits, which reflects the Company’s purpose to reimagine a healthier future for all. In addition to supporting GKAS, Colgate-Palmolive aims to advance health equity through its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures® (BSBF) initiative. Established in 1991, BSBF leads global social impact efforts that empower children and families to achieve healthy and bright futures, and has reached more than 1.7 billion children in over 100 countries around the world. For families, communities and healthcare professionals, the Company’s initiative is designed to improve people’s oral health literacy and ultimately create positive health outcomes.

Howard University College of Dentistry is the nation’s fifth oldest dental school and one of only two HBCU (Historically Black College University) dental schools in the nation. The college has trained more African-American dentists than any other dental school in the United States. The school is the only dental college in the District of Columbia.

For more information about the ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program, visit

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