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Local business aims to gives kids a smile
Give kids a smile
Dr. Melissa Thomas Durand treats one of the patients that came to Lanier Dental Partners for Give Kids a Smile Day on Friday. Below, several children received dental care during the “Give Kids a Smile” initiative. - photo by Jim Dean

A local business took part Friday in a national effort to offer a free dentist visit and more to children who might ordinarily go without care.

Dr. Melissa Thomas Durand of Lanier Dental Partners in Cumming said the office gave dental treatment to about a dozen students Friday, with help from United Way of Forsyth County, as part of National Give Kids a Smile Day.

“This matters to the kids, a lot of the kids, [whose] parents are not able to bring them in … [or] their parents are working and can’t bring them in,” Durand said. “United Way provides the transportation and the forms to bring the children in to have their work done.”

The service is provided at no charge to the children or parents.

It’s the ninth year that Lanier Dental Partners has hosted the effort, and just in the past several years the business has provided nearly $50,000 in treatment, Durand said.

The American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile program was launched nationally in 2003 and has offered services to more than 5.5 million “underserved children” nationally.

The free services are provided by volunteers, including about 10,000 dentists annually, along with 30,000 other dental team members.

Give Kids a Smile is the American  Dental Association Foundation’s signature access to oral health care program for underserved children, with events taking place throughout the year.

The events kick off annually on the first Friday in February, which is Give Kids a Smile Day.

According to the ADA’s website, Give Kids a Smile remains “a critical piece of the ADA’s Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis facing America today.”

It is designed to address the dental health crisis in three areas: providing care now to people who are suffering from untreated disease; strengthening and expanding the public/private safety net; and bringing disease and prevention and education into communities.