Published on Monday, December 16, 2019
By: Kate Royals, [email protected]
Dr. Lake Garner, a 1996 alumnus of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, is giving back in a big way to his school and the community it serves.
Beginning in February, Garner is committing $20,000 a year to help dental students and faculty members provide free treatment for elementary students in the Jackson Public School district. This will mark the 14th year of Give Kids a Smile, which makes up one day of the school’s annual Dental Mission Week.
The American Dental Association began the national Give Kids a Smile program in 2003 as a way for dentists to join with the community to provide dental services to underserved children.
In 2017, the School of Dentistry incorporated Give Kids a Smile into a new, weeklong effort providing care to underserved and uninsured adults and veterans from across the state. In its third year, students and faculty treated more than 1,300 – nearly 400 of them children – during Dental Mission Week.
“Throughout my career, I have treated a great amount of children, and adults, who were not given access to proper dental care early on,” Garner, the chief executive officer of Garner Dental Group, said. “To achieve a lifelong health smile, children must understand the importance of good oral hygiene and be offered the opportunity to achieve such at an early age. Every child deserves the chance at a healthy smile.”
Hattiesburg-based Garner Dental Group operates 15 locations in Mississippi and one in Mobile, Alabama, and employs 200 people.
Dr. David Felton, dean of the School of Dentistry, says Give Kids a Smile is an integral part of the school, and he is extremely grateful for Garner’s commitment to it.
“That Dr. Garner has stepped up to help sponsor GKAS enables the school to provide additional services to these children and help offset the expense associated with the week’s events,” Felton said. “We are extremely grateful to Dr. Garner for his support of the GKAS program and of his support of the School of Dentistry. His visionary gift should set the bar for future giving to the School of Dentistry and our outreach programs.”