UMKC School of Dentistry mobilizes to ‘Give Kids a Smile’

Entire dental school clinic devoted to free dental care for KC area children on Friday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The smiles of local elementary school children will fill the clinics and corridors of the UMKC School of Dentistry during Give Kids a Smile day, Friday, February 3. Beginning at 9 a.m., all of the 240 dental operatories in the UMKC School of Dentistry’s main clinic and virtually all of the school’s students and clinical faculty will be devoted to providing free oral healthcare to disadvantaged children from throughout the KC metro area. This is the seventh year the School of Dentistry has participated in Give Kids a Smile.

During the morning session student doctors will deliver care to 230 elementary school students who have been pre-screened and referred to the School of Dentistry from Score 1 for Health, which is sponsored by the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences and the Deron Cherry Foundation. The afternoon session will be devoted to delivering care to elementary school students who have been referred to the School by the Miles of Smiles program, which serves the Olathe, Kan., School District.

The children participating in Give Kids a Smile at UMKC were selected during routine health screenings that Score 1 for Health and the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences perform at elementary schools in the KCMO, KCK, Hickman Mills and Raytown school districts. Score 1 for Health also subsidizes and arranges the bus transportation for the children to travel to and from the School of Dentistry.

Miles of Smiles is a collaborative outreach program that enables UMKC senior dental hygiene students to staff an onsite portable dental clinic in selected Olathe schools and deliver preventive care to underserved children who qualify for the District’s free and reduced lunch program. Miles of Smiles receives funding from the REACH Healthcare Foundation.

The Give Kids a Smile oral healthcare and education provided by the School of Dentistry is delivered by third- and fourth-year dental students with assistance from first- and second-year students. Senior dental hygiene students are also involved with treating the children. Other participants in UMKC’s Give Kids a Smile activities include Penn Valley dental assisting students, members of UMKC’s Pre-Dental Club and dentists from the Greater Kansas City Dental Society. The oral healthcare delivered by UMKC’s dental and dental hygiene students will be supervised by clinical faculty and volunteer dentists.

Give Kids a Smile is sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA). According to the ADA “the Give Kids a Smile name was first used by the Greater St. Louis Dental Society and a group of dentists who set up a temporary full-service clinic that treated nearly 400 children over two days in February 2002. Since then the program has grown enormously.”

According to Dr. Michael McCunniff, director of UMKC oral health outreach programs, Give Kids a Smile accomplishes multiple goals for the school in particular, and oral healthcare in general.

“Serving the needs of underserved children is obviously the primary purpose of the program. But there are other benefits as well,” he said. “For instance, the health screenings at the area elementary schools and the oral healthcare delivered at the Dental School enable public health professionals to collect data that can be used to address the oral healthcare needs in communities throughout the metro area. Give Kids a Smile also enables our dental and dental hygiene students to participate in community-based programs that enrich and expand their educational experiences.”

About the UMKC School of Dentistry

The UMKC School of Dentistry originated in 1881 as the Kansas City Dental College. The name has changed and the school has grown and evolved into a multi-faceted institution, but it has maintained a tradition of excellence in education for over a century. The School offers a varied and complete range of educational experiences for students of dentistry and dental hygiene and for graduate and continuing education students. For more information about the UMKC School of Dentistry, visit You can also find the School of Dentistry on Facebook.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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