Howard University is providing more than 300 children from Chamberlain Elementary School with free dental examinations and repair as part of the 10th annual Give Kids a Smile Day.

The Deamonte Driver Dental Project is a van that goes to schools and other places in the community to service children that may be in need of dental care. The project is named after a young boy (Deamonte Driver) who died from dental care (lack thereof causes.) (Michael S. Williamson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Since the program started a decade ago, more than 405,338 children have been treated nationwide.

The issue of promoting oral health among children from lower income families hits home in the D.C. area especially hard this time of year. February 25 will be the fifth anniversary of the death of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy from Prince George’s County who died when bacteria from an untreated tooth abscess reached his brain.

Had the tooth been pulled out, he would have lived, but dentists refused to accept his mother’s Medicaid.

In response to that tragedy, the State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began the Deamonte Driver Dental Health Project, to help ensure that no other area children lose their lives because of tooth decay.

Give Kids a Smile Day is taking place today, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Howard University’s College of Dentistry in Northwest.

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