Jerry L. Lanier, DDS, had a vision of a place where low and middle-income children can obtain quality, affordable dental treatment without the fear of seeing a dentist and that vision has become a reality at Kids Dental Kare.
Dr. Lanier attended Dental School at Meharry Dental School in Nashville, Tenn. on a Public Health scholarship. After his graduation in 1983 Dr. Lanier worked in a Public Health clinic for (4) years, where he became aware of debased and disadvantaged communities. These formative years is where Dr. Lanier was able to cultivate his current philosophy cemented upon one of his favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt. “Nobody cares how much you know till they know how much you care”. This philosophy is the foundation upon which “KDK” (Kids Dental Kare) is built upon. “Kare” with a “K” representing the blending of “Kindness and Care” = Kare.
Dr. Lanier moved to Los Angeles in 1991 and worked in a variety of dental offices. Finally, he struck out on his own to follow his dream as an Entrepreneur and Community servant. “I was riding around and saw an abandoned dental office for lease in a low-income neighborhood,” Dr. Lanier said. “I couldn’t afford a lot, this place was affordable, and I saw kids up and down the streets, so I didn’t need to do any demographic study; I just looked for the strollers”. During this time Dr. Lanier came across horrific accounts of oral hygiene neglect, from the children he encountered on the streets. He recounted this unfortunate instance, “A young girl told me that her family of six all shared the same tooth brush.”
Continuing his effort’s of commitment to treat underprivileged children, Dr. Lanier purchased a 25-foot mobile unit dental screening van, providing free screenings while distributing toothbrushes, toothpaste and balloons.” Seventeen years later Kids Dental Kare exists in 8 locations: Hollywood, East L.A., El Monte, Paramount, Lynwood, Huntington Park, Cudahy and Burbank.
The KDK mobile unit still attends community health fairs and gives presentations to organizations, pre-schools and elementary schools. At the schools, the KDK staff lead the children in song, “Brush, brush, brush…,” using a giant sized toothbrush and a puppet. Dr. Lanier says he visits the school nurses because, “They are on the front line and see the kids with toothaches,and mouths that are in terrible conditions”.
Dr. Lanier has been recognized by the city and the state for his work providing information and dental screenings to the community.