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Nova Southeastern University
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Pride Bite: Student Organized Program Offers Dental Care to more than 300 Children in Need

It’s “Fins Up!” for the NSU College of Dental Medicine annual Give Kids a Smile day. A happy patient shows off his freshly cleaned teeth for (from l. to r.) Victoria Gandarillas, class of ’18; Dean Linda Niessen; Lauren Pinkus, class of ’19; and Matthew Munroe, class of ’19. Kimberly Wang, director of Clinical Dental Hygiene, looks in from behind the group.

It’s “Fins Up!” for the NSU College of Dental Medicine annual Give Kids a Smile day. A happy patient shows off his freshly cleaned teeth for (from l. to r.) Victoria Gandarillas, class of ’18; Dean Linda Niessen; Lauren Pinkus, class of ’19; and Matthew Munroe, class of ’19. Kimberly Wang, director of Clinical Dental Hygiene, looks in from behind the group.

NSU’s Core Value of Community was  on full display during Give Kids a Smile Day.

Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) College of Dental Medicine provided dental services to more than 300 children and special needs patients in South Florida on Saturday, February 4, 2017 as part of ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) program. This year, NSU joins the Foundation in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the GKAS program.

NSU was one of the few programs among the 1,500 GKAS locations nationwide that provided comprehensive, pediatric dental services. More than 200 students and 100 faculty members and staff from the College of Dental Medicine provided preventive care such as prophys (cleanings), topical fluoride and sealants as well as fillings and extractions for children with greater dental needs.

To make the event inviting, the GKAS committee transformed the dental clinic to an “under the sea” retreat – a great fit for NSU’s mascot, Razor, and the NSU Sharks. Disney characters Moana and The Little Mermaid and mates from the Pirates of the Caribbean added to the event. Miami Dolphins cheerleaders and the Miami Heat’s Burnie made special appearances. NSU’s RadioX provided musical entertainment.

Alexis Otero, president, class of ’17, and her adorable patient give a thumbs up to healthy teeth.

Alexis Otero, president, class of ’17, and her adorable patient give a thumbs up to healthy teeth.

“Our goal was to create a welcoming atmosphere for children who may be visiting the dentist for the first time,” said Adam Saltz, MPH, DMD candidate ’17, coordinator of the GKAS event. He pointed out that several other areas of NSU were involved. The College of Pharmacy provided information on medications, vaccinations, and poison control. The College of Osteopathic Medicine provided nutritional counseling and information on total body wellness. Students from NSU’s predental society as well as from FIU, FAU and UCF also lent a hand.

“Each year, we provide much needed dental care to children, many of whom have never visited the dentist,” said Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean of the college. “This student-led program engages faculty, staff and community members who serve as volunteers in the day’s events, enabling our students to realize their potential as leaders.”

Niessen added, “GKAS also teaches our College of Dental Medicine students the power of giving back to the community – an NSU core value.”

“It was heartwarming to see children, who were initially anxious, truly enjoy their dental experience with us,” said Saltz. “Knowing that we helped treat and educate them about the importance of dental care makes all of our hard work worthwhile.”

NSU GKAS sponsors for 2017 included Henry Schein Cares; Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Dexis.