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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kids learn about oral health

By Brooke Wilson
Reader Submitted

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dr. Brian Kim, board member of the Hawaii Dental Association's Dental Samaritans, examines an 'Ewa Elementary School student. The annual event promotes good oral health for Hawai'i school children.

Hawaii Dental Association Dental Samaritan

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For the sixth year in a row, the Hawaii Dental Association Dental Samaritans teamed up with Honolulu Councilman Todd K. Apo for Give Kids a Smile Day, an annual event that promotes good oral health for Hawai'i's children.

This year, volunteer dentists and their staffs took dentistry on the road Thursday to 'Ewa Elementary on O'ahu and Ele'ele Elementary on Kaua'i. More than 700 students from both schools received free dental screenings, oral health care lessons and free dental products.

Sponsors Henry Schein Corp. and Patterson Hawaii donated free dental home kits, which included toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and fun educational materials.

This is the fourth year that Give Kids A Smile Day has branched out to the Neighbor Islands. The HDA Dental Samaritans provided screenings for more than 400 students at Ele'ele Elementary.

"The Hawaii Dental Association's Dental Samaritans continue their commitment year after year to educate Hawai'i's children about the importance of taking care of their teeth," Apo said. "Give Kids a Smile Day is a great program that makes a tremendous difference in the lives of our kids."

Give Kids A Smile Day is a national initiative by the American Dental Association. It is held on the first Friday in February, in conjunction with National Children's Dental Health Month. In Hawai'i, the day was moved to Thursday because Friday was a furlough day for the public schools.

Give Kids a Smile Day provides free oral health education, screening and treatment services to children from low-income families across the country.

"Education is such an integral part of being healthy. Teaching kids how to properly care for themselves is a lesson that will last a lifetime," said Dr. Russell H. Masunaga, director of the Dental Samaritans.

The Dental Samaritans was established in 2001. Since then, the group has initiated numerous oral health awareness events for kids and kupuna and issued grants to various dental programs such as the New Beginning Transitional Shelter at Barbers Point and the Battleship Missouri Memorial's Dental Clinic Restoration Project.