Campus & Community

PBSC Dental Hygiene students give children free cleanings at ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’

PBSC’s Dental Health Services Clinic was in full swing during Give Kids a Smile Day. CLICK on IMAGE to view the photo album.

The Dental Health Services Clinic on Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus was full of smiles on March 21 when children from the Wellington Boys and Girls Club received free preventive dental treatment at the Give Kids a Smile event hosted by PBSC’s Dental Hygiene program.

Thirty-four children received a dental cleaning, x-rays (if needed), fluoride treatment, sealants, and oral health education, all performed by students currently enrolled in the Dental Hygiene Associate in Science degree program under the direct supervision of clinical faculty.

Thirty-four children received a dental cleaning, x-rays (if needed), fluoride treatment, sealants, and oral health education.

Continuing a long tradition interrupted by the pandemic, Palm Beach State’s 2024 GKAS event is one of about 1,500 such events being held nationwide this year. Founded by the American Dental Association in 2003, GKAS events annually involve approximately 37,000 dental health professionals providing free oral health education, screenings, and preventive and restorative treatment to over 300,000 children. To date, over 7 million underserved children have received free oral health services through the GKAS program.

“This was an important day because Palm Beach State College hopefully raised awareness of the need for preventive dental care for children,” said Judy McCauley, director of PBSC’s Dental Hygiene program. “Florida, in particular, has a poor rating in providing dental treatment to children, and it’s really critical that children get proper dental care so they can function properly, not only in school but also in their daily lives and interactions with others.”

Teaching proper tooth brushing and hygiene practices were part of Give Kids a Smile Day.

Tooth decay (dental caries) is the most prevalent chronic disease among children and adolescents. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to problems in eating, speaking, playing and learning. According to Floridians for Dental Access, Florida ranks last (50th out of 50 states) in the percentage of children receiving a dental health visit in the last 12 months, and 1 out of 4 (25.1%) Florida third graders have untreated cavities, making Florida the sixth worst state in the nation for this measure.

The 25 dental hygiene students who treated the children will soon enter the workforce. All are second-year students in the two-year Dental Hygiene A.S. degree program and graduate in May. After taking national and state licensing examinations, they will start high-demand careers as licensed registered dental hygienists in various settings, including general and specialty dental practices, hospitals and community health care facilities, and school-based programs.

Kendal Patterson chose dental hygiene as a career because she is passionate about helping people live healthier lives.

“A lot of patients are not aware of their mouth being connected to their entire body, so educating patients on how to prevent diseases in their mouth is very helpful to their overall health,” Patterson said. “Give Kids a Smile allowed me to practice the way that I speak to and work with kids and educate them on the mouth-body connection and the proper way to brush and floss their teeth.”

For dental hygiene student Tyler Grant, GKAS day was personal.

Dental hygiene student Tyler Grant saw Give Kids a Smile Day as a chance to give back to the Boys & Girls Club where he was once a member.

“I grew up in Royal Palm, so when I was young, I was at the Boys and Girls Club in Wellington, like the children we treated today,” Grant said. “It was an opportunity to give back to the kids and the community. My goal was to try and keep it simple. If we’re able to establish even one or two healthy oral hygiene habits, it could last their entire lifetime. Just brush for two minutes twice a day. If I got them to retain that, then it was a perfect day.”

Kasey Andrews found it very rewarding to work with children who don’t get regular dental care.

“What I love about being a student at Palm Beach State is that we’re able to help our community and offer these resources to people who can’t access care,” Andrews said. “My first child patient today was apprehensive at first. He was definitely a little nervous. He asked me what I was doing and if it would hurt, but I made sure to explain everything to him along the way. I let him look in the mirror, and I showed him exactly what I was doing so he felt comfortable. He went away smiling. He was happy, for sure.”

See the GKAS photo album for more smiles!


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3 comments on “PBSC Dental Hygiene students give children free cleanings at ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’”

  1. I am very proud of our students and the services that they performed with the boys and girls club participants

  2. Wonderful article! “Give Kids a Smile Day” could not have been more successful! I know the kids today left today with more knowledge about oral health and will feel less nervous when they go to the dentist in the future.

  3. Congratulations to our faculty and students on such a tremendous program!

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