Dr. Rishita Jaju of Smile Wonders annually opens the doors of her Reston-area pediatric dental practice every February to host Give Kids a Smile® Day and to provide free dental care to those in need.
This is one of the ways Smile Wonders provides community service and participates in Dental Awareness Month campaign held by the American Dental Association.
“Each February, our team goes to schools and daycare centers throughout the month to perform dental screenings and promote good dental care and oral hygiene,” Dr. Jaju explained.
“Often, we get a school nurse’s report of a child losing class time due to dental pain complaints. Other times, they have over-retained baby teeth that are irritating the gums and impacting the growth of adult teeth.”
Screenings are done at school with parental permission, to identify visible decay or areas of pain that might need urgent dental help. Some parents don’t even realize that dental pain is at the root of their child’s behavior of being a “picky eater” or a “slow and messy eater.” Once parents are informed that a dental issue is contributing to their child’s behavior, they are eager to get help, but often run into financial constraints. “It is for those children and families that we host our event,” said Dr. Jaju.
The kids who come to this yearly event are there because they are in need of support. Some children have parents who cannot afford to pay for dental treatment for one reason or another, while others are coming from the homeless shelter and are in need of dental care.
On the day of the Give Kids a Smile event, Dr. Jaju is accompanied by her team and other volunteers referred from the Virginia Dental Association.
Local and dental vendors also get in on the act, with items like coloring and activity books, and Spanish and English home care instructional materials. The event takes on a party-like atmosphere, with games, music, balloons, bubbles and toys.
The dental professionals arrive early and usually discover a queue of parents and children eagerly waiting in the first-come, first-serve line. Throughout the day, the professionals provide oral health screenings, education, cleanings, fluoride treatments, digital x-rays, fillings, crowns and extractions as needed.
“Community service is one of the founding pillars of professional satisfaction” for Dr. Jaju. She has participated in many events overseas such as the Operation Smile missions in Vietnam and India, and also enjoys the ability to provide service right here to our local community. Dr. Jaju hopes to be able to continue with many such initiatives annually with help from her staff and colleagues.
Those interested in participating in the February 2018 Give Kids a Smile event or receiving services for their children should contact Smile Wonders in Reston, VA.
11790 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 105
Reston, VA 20191