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Dr. Jeff Dalin

There is an old proverb that says, “ If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap … if you want happiness for a day, go fishing … if you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune … If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Happiness is truly found in helping others.

 Dr. Jeff Dalin

Dr. Jeff Dalin is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and has been in private practice as a dentist there since 1980. He is a co-founder of Give Kids A Smile, a Fellow of AGD, ACD, ICD, and ADI, and also a writer, editor, and lecturer. Dr. Dalin’s love for dentistry began when he was a boy working at his father’s dental office in St. Louis. Determined to pursue his dental career, Dr. Dalin finished his undergraduate studies at Emory University School of Dentistry and then earned his dental degree at Indiana University School of Dentistry, before returning home to practice with his father in 1980.

Soon after graduating, Dr. Dalin became involved with the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. Several years later he found himself in an ad hoc committee meeting where members were discussing giving back. Dr. Dalin later volunteered at a back-to-school program that collected everyday items like socks, winter coats, and school supplies for kids in need. When their committee met again a few months later, he mentioned this program, and said. “Why not take care of their dental needs?” Give Kids A Smile was born right then.

The first GKAS event took place in St. Louis in 2002. Two years later, the American Dental Association adopted the program. Today, Dr. Dalin and several colleagues he considers friends come together for a two-day clinic, two times a year in St. Louis. The Give Kids A Smile program, by its very existence, shows that a simple idea can grow into a national movement. Today, over 300,000 underserved children across the nation receive free oral healthcare services through the ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program, with over 25,000 dental team volunteers and 7,000 dentists.

Why did you help create the Give Kids A Smile program?

We, as dental professionals, have very specialized talents that can help kids achieve good dental health. We are the only ones who can restore comfort and esthetics to those in need. There is no greater feeling than seeing a beautiful smile appear on a child, who otherwise could not or would not smile. I highly recommend anyone reading this to get involved in a Give Kids A Smile Program (or start one up from scratch). It will be one of the most rewarding activities you can experience.
Why is the Give Kids A Smile program important?

Dentists are proud that most Americans enjoy excellent oral health. But we also believe that it is a national disgrace that in 21st Century America, thousands of children can’t sleep or eat properly, can’t pay attention in school, and can’t smile because they have untreated dental disease, which is something that is easily preventable. When children receive care from volunteers during Give Kids A Smile Programs, pain goes away, self-esteem increases … a healthy smile can be a transformational experience for these kids.
Please tell us a story about how your Give Kids A Smile program helped a child/children in need. 
I will always remember the story about this one middle school child. For months, she had been disruptive in class, made frequent visits to the school nurse and principal, was absent from school a lot, was often involved in angry outbursts with teachers and peers, and had become more and more disheveled in appearance. She came to our clinic and had quite a bit of work done, including having a tooth removed. After that day, she became a model student. She had been in constant pain with her teeth … a visit to our St. Louis Give Kids A Smile Clinic made quite a difference in her life.

Read more history of Give Kids A Smile.

Read the GKAS 15th Anniversary Gratitude Report.
Donate to Give Kids A Smile.