National dental awareness event for underprivileged kids draws over 1,600 to Garden City’s Cradle of Aviation Museum.
Garden City, NY - March 24, 2017 - When it comes to your overall sense of health and well-being, nothing beats a clean set of choppers. However, regular dental care is something that is all-too-often neglected by today’s youth – especially when it comes to underprivileged communities – and an annual volunteer event is seeking to undo those lessons and give kids the help they need for a sparkling smile for years to come.
On Friday, March 24, Garden City’s Cradle of Aviation Museum was host to the 14th annual Nassau County Dental Society (NCDS) “Give Kids A Smile” event, which promotes the benefits of proper dental care and oral hygiene for youngsters who otherwise might not have access to it.
(L to R): Ronald McDonald, event co-chair Joseph Brofsky, LI McDonald's Marketing & Public Relations Director Luciana Montuoro, event co-chair Michael Shreck. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
Event co-chair Joseph Brofsky said that “Give Kids A Smile” is a national endeavor – over 2,000 such events are held at venues from coast-to-coast – and extends a helping hand to children from disenfranchised areas who may not have access at all to any sort of dental care…a problem becoming all too common in today’s society, unfortunately.
“Today we’re expecting a turnout of over 1,600 children here today, bused in from under-privileged areas all over Long Island, such as Uniondale, Freeport, and Hicksville,” he said. “Some of these children have actually never seen a dentist in their entire lives. We provide them with dental checkups, various simple treatments, and, if needed, follow-up care.”
James Keenan is a Brookville dentist who has also been an active participant in the “Give Kids A Smile” event for the past seven years. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
Over 100 volunteer dentists were set up at tables on the Cradle’s second floor balcony; one-by-one, tykes were led over to whichever professional was free to be given a hands-on exam and on-the-spot treatment including cleanings and temporary fillings. The chaos of having over 1,600 children running about in the Cradle’s enclosed space was controlled by the helpful presence of over 300 student volunteers from high schools all over Long Island, all pitching in as chaperones to help make the event an orderly and well-oiled success.
A welcome distraction to those who might have cold feet about visiting a dentist came in the form of a visit from jolly and mirthful Ronald McDonald himself. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
For years, Long Island McDonald's has been a very active participant in the “Give Kids A Smile” event, providing entertainment to the kids – and a welcome distraction to those who might have cold feet about visiting a dentist – in the form of a visit from jolly and mirthful Ronald McDonald himself, according to Luciana Montuoro, LI McDonald's Marketing & Public Relations Director.
“Long Island McDonald's is touched and very happy to play a special role in Nassau County's Give Kids a Smile each year, for the past seven years now,” she said. “It's a great feeling to see the children's faces light up when they see Ronald McDonald walk through the door of the Children's Museum. He helps put the children at ease before they go for their dental check-up and treatments.”
Over 300 student volunteers from high schools all over Long Island pitched in as chaperones to help make the event an orderly and well-oiled success. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
In addition, each child was provided with a gift bag filled with all manner of fun oral health-related treats and trinkets, ensuring that the importance of taking care of your teeth was driven home to the children in attendance.
“Each of the 1,600 children expected to attend this year will receive a bag filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, coloring book, crayons, and a complimentary Happy Meal coupon valid at participating Long Island McDonald's restaurants,” Montuoro said. “We're all about giving back to the community. There's nothing more rewarding than that.”
Over 100 volunteer dentists were set up at tables on the Cradle’s second floor balcony; one-by-one, tykes were led over to whichever professional was free to be given a hands-on exam. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
James Keenan is a Bellmore dentist who has also been an active participant in the “Give Kids A Smile” event for the past seven years; he originally got involved as a personal favor to event co-chair Joseph Brofsky, with whom he was friends with during his dental residency.
“Joseph and his wife put a lot of work into this every year, so I’m glad I could be a part of it,” he said. “In addition, being able to help all of these children with a very basic health need is a wonderful opportunity…the importance of oral health care with kids is often overlooked by parents because they figure that their baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by their permanent teeth. But teaching them the right way to care for their teeth now establishes a routine that will lead to a lifetime of proper care.”
Philip Tornatore is a dentist who runs his practice out of Hicksville; this year marks his sixth volunteering at the “Give Kids A Smile” event. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle
Philip Tornatore is a dentist who runs his practice out of Hicksville; this year marks his sixth volunteering at the “Give Kids A Smile” event, and said that he does so as a way to help those – especially children – who may not have enjoyed the advantages in life that he has, and to teach them that with the right habits formed early in life, that they too can go far.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life, so I do this as a way of giving back to those in the community that may be less fortunate,” he said. “I’ll probably examine at least 30 to 40 children today, providing check-ups, cleanings, fluoride treatments, temporary fillings, and dental advice. But overall, I’m surprised that we’re still seeing some kids here with really bad cavities…I really think the problem is education and access to dental and health care in impoverished communities, and that’s a problem that we really need to address in this country.”