The Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry continues to offer dental care to Ohio veterans each November. Give Veterans A Smile Day provides dental screenings, X-rays and cleanings, all free of charge. This year’s event takes place on Monday, Nov. 14, at Postle Hall.
“We are pleased and proud to host the Give Veterans a Smile event,” said Carroll Ann Trotman, dean of the college. “As a college that is dedicated to training dental professionals and providing oral health care, we are glad to offer dental services to communities and people in need, including veterans throughout Ohio.”
“In Ohio, dental care is one of the biggest health care needs for veterans,” said Paul Georgin, a fourth-year dental student and the event’s coordinator. Georgin is attending Ohio State through an Air Force scholarship. After graduating, he will serve his active-duty years as a military dentist.
The college treated 22 veterans at last year’s event and hopes to have 25 this fall. The Ohio State name carries a lot of weight with veterans, Georgin said. They are often excited to be getting care from the school that is home to their favorite football team.
“Ohio State is a pillar of hope. It’s something to believe in,” he said. “The university is so big and there are so many opportunities here. We’d be remiss not to share that with veterans.”
Dental care is often overlooked, Georgin said. And that can lead to discomfort and pain.
“A friend of mine coined the phrase ‘teeth are not luxury bones,’” Georgin said. “Your mouth goes through a tremendous amount of trauma throughout your life. Often, people don’t realize what problems they have.”
Having access to quality dental care can make a huge difference in a person’s life, he added.
“Knowledge of your oral health status is power,” he said. “You don’t have to make a decision about treatment today. But allowing people to understand what’s happening in their mouths, and to be able to do that for free, that’s awesome.”
For Georgin, it is an opportunity to give something tangible to a community that means so much to him.
“For the first time in my life, I feel like I have the skills to help someone,” he said. “What gets me going every day is helping people and being hands-on.”
This excitement isn’t unique to Georgin. Shifts to staff the event fill up quickly, he said. Participation in the event isn’t limited to dental providers, meaning anyone in the college can help.
“The students get really excited,” he said. “We need people greeting vets at the door or showing them to their appointment. It’s a big building! Having someone help you navigate can relieve some stress.”
For students and patients, Georgin sees Ohio State as a “common rallying point.”
“People in Ohio like Ohio State,” he said. “The university putting together a program like this and getting involved with the veteran community, that’s important.”
For more information, visit the college’s website.