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The Smile: Spring 2024

Newsletter • February 2024

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Dental decay is not an equal opportunity disease. February, also known as National Children’s Dental Health Month, is the perfect opportunity to talk about it. Children living in poverty are more likely to have cavities and to have the condition left untreated. Black and Hispanic children are almost three times more likely to live in poverty than white children.*

Children – regardless of the socioeconomic status of their parents and families – deserve to grow, play, eat, and learn without the burden of tooth pain. A child with dental problems may experience anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and depression; they may withdraw from normal activities. Children distracted by dental pain may be unable to concentrate, learn, and complete schoolwork.

Kids’ oral health is important ALL year. National Children’s Dental Health Month is a dedicated time to raise awareness about the importance of oral health in children and encourage positive dental habits starting in childhood.

Children deserve equal access to dental care. Right now, they don’t have it. The AAPD Foundation is taking action to help the kids who need it. Since 2010, we have issued more than $10.1 million in grants and commitments to get kids care. And the work continues!

*Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A dentist giving a young child a dental check up

Big News! Announcing Multi-Year Access To Care Grant Recipients!

We are proud to announce the Foundation has committed $1.8 million in dental grants to eight nonprofit clinics providing community-based care to underserved children in their communities. Each clinic will receive $225,000 through December 2026.

Organizations receiving $225,000 grants include:

  • Barrio Comprehensive Family Health Care Center, Inc.
    San Antonio, Texas
  • Caridad Center
    Boynton Beach, Florida
  • Community Volunteers in Medicine
    West Chester, Pennsylvania
  • Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic
    Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Oak Park River Forest Infant Welfare Society
    Oak Park, Illinois
  • Salt Lake Donated Dental Services
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • University of Maryland
    Baltimore, Maryland
  • Variety Care and Variety Care Foundation
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Access to care is a complex challenge and these grant recipients are making a difference in the ongoing oral health – and overall health – of their patients. These recipients are true Healthy Smile Heroes in their communities. These new commitments are the first round of sustained support the Foundation hopes to make over the next three years.

Douglas Keck, DMD, MSHed, Foundation president, pediatric dentist, and dental director of a Federally Qualified Health Center in Florida

Are you with a nonprofit organization that would like to apply for a dental grant? Applications for single-year Access To Care Grants open in late Spring 2024. Keep an eye on Apply for Grants for updates!

A dentist checking a child's teeth

From the Front: Patient Stories

More kids than ever are under- or uninsured and rely upon community health programs and services for their dental care. AAPD Foundation grants are essential for many of these programs and services to exist! Some programs include school-based or mobile clinics so care providers can go straight to the kids who need them.

Access to oral healthcare is exceptionally challenging for refugee families who have just arrived in the U.S. One of these sweet souls is four-year-old Zuberi! He moved with his family from the Democratic Republic of Congo last year and he didn’t speak much English. His first-ever dental visit was in a school-based clinic. There, he received a dental screening and fluoride treatment, and the screening revealed multiple areas of decay in need of restoration. Zuberi’s teacher was able to help interpret the exam for Zuberi’s mom in Swahili. Together, the care team was able to make an appointment for a comprehensive exam and x-rays at the full-sized clinic – not only for Zuberi, but also for his three siblings.

The family arrived at the AAPD Foundation-supported clinic a couple of weeks later and everyone was understandably nervous – even Zuberi’s mother had never been to a dentist before.  Zuberi was brave during his x-rays! He thought it was fun to wear sunglasses during his cleaning and exam. When the dentist came in wearing their white coat, he got a little more nervous, but he continued to be cooperative. The x-rays showed that Zuberi had eight cavities, but all his teeth could be restored and he wouldn’t need any extractions.

Between him and his siblings, the children had 26 cavities! They were each scheduled to have the necessary treatments, and the family was armed with home-care tips and tools. Because of the screening, Zuberi’s family was able to access much-needed treatment completed.

Thanks to the compassionate care of our grantees, the family is now connected to a dentist and resources for the future. None of this wonderful work would be possible without caring donors like you.

Healthy Smile Heroes Galore at AAPD & AAPD Foundation Leadership Institute

On December 7, 2023, Cohort VII of AAPD/AAPD Foundation Leadership Institute attended their first set of courses at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. It was an energetic weekend of learning experiences with some of the best and brightest minds in leadership development. This Cohort of Healthy Smile Heroes proudly donned their capes to champion compassionate care for every little superhero’s smile!

Cohort VII participants include Drs. Alexander Alcaraz, Aarika Anderson Elter, Natasha Bramley, Aarum Bummann, Brianne Butler, Glenn Canares, Vanessa Carpenter, Carolyn Crowell, Matthew Gesener, Tiffany Green, Colleen Collins Greene, Marcio Guelmann, Brittaney Hill, Bina Katechia, Venetia Laganis, Flavia Lamberghini, Clarise Law Eyre, AnnMarie Matusak, Jeffrey Miles Mazzawi, Brianna Munoz, Hubert Park, Don Schmitt, Brandon Schwindt, and T.P. Sivakumar. Three representatives from the American College of Dentists also are members of Cohort VII. 

Cohort VII of AAPD/AAPD Foundation Leadership Institute attended their first set of courses at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
Cohort of Healthy Smile Heroes proudly donned their capes to champion compassionate care for every little superhero's smile
An illustration of our Healthy Smile Hero, wearing a pink cape, purple mask and skirt, and holding a dental floss lasso.

Become a healthy smile hero!

With your help, we can give more children the dental care they need—and the healthy smile they deserve.