Dental Health students give smiles to 300 kids
Busloads of Head Start preschoolers came to the Dental Hygiene Care Center on the Lake Worth campus to get their teeth checked and cleaned on Feb. 7, the annual Give Kids a Smile Day.
For the eighth year, Palm Beach State’s Dental Health Services department hosted the event as part of the American Dental Association’s national day, started in 2003. As tallied by the ADA, the 2014 Give Kids a Smile Day benefited 346,524 children at 1,525 events put on by 9,105 participating dentists and 28,370 volunteers.
The Palm Beach State event served 300 children. Each child was examined by a dentist and received an oral prophylaxis/cleaning and fluoride varnish application performed by a PBSC dental hygiene student. Dental assisting students assisted in the clinic and taught oral health lessons. A clown and tooth fairy added to the welcoming atmosphere, and each child went home with a dental health bag containing a toothbrush, toothpaste and educational materials for parents.
“It’s a fun day and win-win situation for the children and students”, says event coordinator Marilee S. McGaughey, RDH, MDH, an associate professor for PBSC’s Dental Health programs. “The students get that good feeling of helping others, which they will carry forward into their careers.”
Tooth decay (dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems in eating, speaking, playing and learning. Nearly 1 in 4 children ages 2 to 11 years old have untreated cavities in their baby teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Florida, many children enrolled in Medicaid receive no dental services during the year. Give Kids a Smile is held annually to:
- Provide free dental services to local, qualifying children from low-income families.
- Raise awareness of the epidemic of untreated dental disease occurring across the country.
- Raise awareness of the need to build local public and private partnerships to increase access to oral health care to solve this crisis.
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