KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Friday, Feb. 1 is national "Give Kids a Smile Day".
To commemorate the day, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and retired Kansas City Chiefs player Deron Cherry are sponsoring an event to provide much needed dental treatments for local children.
More than 150 kids from Primitivo Garcia, Center, Gladstone and Pitcher Elementary Schools in Kansas City, Bonner Springs Elementary and Arbor Creek Elementary in Olathe will get a free dental exam, cleaning and even surgery, if needed, Friday.
The college screened thousands of kids and picked out the ones who need the most help.
Many of the children have untreated cavities, decay and infection because they've never gone to the dentist. Friday's visit could be their first, and last, time seeing a dental specialist. More than 100 UMKC. dental students will be working alongside a dozen volunteer pediatric dentists from offices on both sides of the state line.
The goal is to keep the kids healthy and focused on the most important thing: their schoolwork.
Michael McCunniff, UMKC Dental Professor says it means the world to watch the kids leave the clinic with a smile and a boost of confidence.
"Just the amount of pain some of these kids have to go through and how they're expected to sit in a classroom and study with a horrible toothache is beyond me", he said, explaining that some children's teeth are so decayed that they have to be removed. "You are brought into this word without teeth, but you sure don't want to leave this world without them", he joked, "I'm just so glad we can do this for the kids. It's a critical need in their lives".
Retired Kansas City Chiefs player Deron Cherry sponsored similar events in Kansas City for the past 21 years. "I was always taught regardless of your situation the one common denominator is you can get an education. But in order to get an education, you must have a foundation built on health", Cherry explained,
"When they walk out of here they will have a big smile on their face because now they feel like they mean something".
Friday's "Give Kids a Smile" event runs from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the UMKC School of Dentistry's clinic floor, located at 650 East 25 th Street. It's one of more than 1,700 events around the country.
Although the children have already been selected for this year's event, the UMKC School of Dentistry is always willing to help the community find dental treatment for low income families. Families who believe they may qualify for assistance can call the Dentistry School at (816) 235-2100.