Dentists, Dental Students ‘Give Kids a Smile’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Dental students and dental industry professionals gathered at Choffin Career and Technical Center Friday morning, awaiting a bus of around 50 students from Youngstown’s Paul C. Bunn Elementary School.

The event was a kickoff to the  “Give Kids a Smile” program – a collaborative effort put on annually by the American Dental Association and the Ohio Dental Association.

“We have been doing it for 21 years at Choffin – our home for many years,” said Dr. Sergio Nadler of the Corydon Palmer Dental Society and a dentist at Modern Dental Concepts in Warren.

Corydon Palmer Dental Society is a nonprofit association of 300 dental practitioners who practice in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Several members attended the event as volunteers.

“We have dentists, we have hygienists – we also have some assistants,” said Nadler. “We are seeing a lot of kids and we are going to be rotating through a lot of stations.”

Volunteers were paired with students in Choffin’s dental assistant program and students studying dental hygiene at Youngstown State University. Each team was expected to serve about six children.

Dr. Lori Fitzgerald, a Canfield dentist and president of the ODA, said the national program began in 2003, and locally for 21 years.

“They’ll be 90-plus events across the state where we donate free services,” she said. “When it’s all said and done, we think we should see about 26,000 students and we are going to be donating over a half a million dollars in free dental care.”

Since the start of the program, more than $16 million has been donated in dental care and oral health education, according to Fitzgerald.

Many of these children have never seen a dentist before. The goal to educate them at a young age and set them on the correct path.

“The easiest one to remember is brush two minutes twice a day,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to keep cavities down low.”

Children developing cavities may lead to missed classes and therefore falling behind in work, or worse, said Fitzgerald.

“Kids can become incredibly sick and there have been some really sad stories where kids end up in hospitals because infections can get in blood and make them septic,” she said.

Dr. Paul Bertlasio awards scholarships to Mia Mercurio and Meadow Balmat.

“It’s preventable and it’s just a shame to kids suffer with the oral pain.”

The Corydon Palmer Dental Society also awarded two scholarships Friday.

“Our dental society has a long history of giving scholarships to the students here at Choffin,” said board president, Dr. Paul Bertlasio.

The recipients are Choffin dental assistant students Mia Mercurio and Meadow Balmat.

Pictured at top: Dr. Lori Fitzgerald is a dentist who practices in Canfield. She is president of the Ohio dentist and president of the Ohio Dental Association.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.