Participating in a Give Kids A Smile event as a practicing dentist is much different than helping out as a dental student. Dr. Maria Wittman would know. As a third- and fourth-year student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and a 2012 graduate, Dr. Wittman, under the supervision of faculty, conducted exams and cleanings during Give Kids A Smile events at the school.
But now that Dr. Wittman, 33, is a practicing dentist in Kansas, the experience is more intense and involved.
“Now that I’m out of school, I have much more clinical knowledge,” Dr. Wittman said. “It’s different than just focusing on one tooth, I’m there to provide an overall assessment of the children and set goals for them in regards to their oral health.”
On Feb. 2 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Dr. Wittman was one of three dentists at Salina Dental Arts who provided free oral health care for 50-60 children. It was the first time the office held a GKAS event and the first time Dr. Wittman participated one post-dental school.
The ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program is in its 16th year and has served more than 5.5 million children. More than 300,000 underserved children are expected to receive dental services this year alone at GKAS events through the country.
Salina Dental Arts’ event was held on the national GKAS day and children only had to be under 13 years old to receive care.
The dentists and team members conducted exams, radiographs, cleanings and sealants, Dr. Wittman said.
Each child was also provided with a treatment plan to take back to their home dentist or to continue their care with Salina Dental Arts, she said. “This came up as a national day and we thought it would be great for the office to participate,” Dr. Wittman said. “I’m very privileged to work in an office that has such a positive attitude about giving back to the community. We’re always looking for ways to help in the Salina community.” Each of the four dentists and 18 dental team members donated their time that day with not a single one clocking in for pay, Dr. Wittman said. “I just think that’s amazing,” Dr. Wittman said. “It’s amazing to work at an office where people want to give back.”
For more information about Give Kids A Smile, visit ADAFoundation.org/GKAS.