They helped provide dental care to patients 12 years old and under, leaving behind many healthier mouths. On Feb. 1, pre-dental students from NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College volunteered their time to document and collect data as part of the New Jersey Dental Association’s (NJDA) annual Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Day. The program, supported by the American Dental Association Foundation, arranges for dental practices throughout the Garden State to offer free screenings, fillings, extractions and restorative treatments.

Eleven pre-dental students from NJIT were site data managers at various practices for the day, also shadowing dentists, escorting patients to exam rooms and serving as liaisons between the NJDA and the practices. NJIT has been involved jointly with Rutgers University-Newark in GKAS Day for the past five years.

“Each year over 2,000 children are treated during this one-day event, which also benefits student volunteers and practicing dentists,” said Samantha Bove, NJDA marketing specialist/administrator. “The dentists are always happy to welcome the students into their practice and get the extra help, especially with collecting the data. Many times we see relationships develop between the student volunteers and the dental practice, and the students continue to shadow the dentists and volunteer at the dental practice after Give Kids A Smile Day.”

“My greatest takeaway is that dentistry is about humanism, and thus dental students should learn to care for their patients and their community as a whole,” remarked Saloni Patel, NJIT pre-dental student, and university chair for the event since 2017, about GKAS Day.

Saloni Patel (center), pre-dental Dorman Scholar and NJIT chair for Give Kids A Smile Day, received flowers as a thank you for her work with the program from the New Jersey Dental Association’s Maureen Barlow (left) and Samantha Bove.

Fellow Honors student and GKAS participant Amanda Gross enjoyed “being able to help all the children in need. Part of my job was sitting with the kids that were scared and making sure they were comfortable. I am really glad that I was able to be part of GKAS day.”

All the pre-dental students assisting with GKAS Day were feted Feb. 27 at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.

The pre-dental program at NJIT, administered by the university’s Honors College, is one of several accelerated academic options for Dorman Scholars.