It's almost time for Give Kids a Smile: The Sequel!
A festival or fair? No, this is the scene during MCHD Dentistry’s Give Kids a Smile!
The event, which provides free dental checkups to children up to the age of 18 without insurance, is usually held annually on the first Friday in February as part of a national effort launched by the American Dental Association.
This year, however, thanks to funds provided by Your Community Foundation of West Virginia, MCHD Dentistry will be holding GKAS 2019 II: The Sequel, on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
This is just in time for back-to-school, so kids can be sure to return to class with pearly white smiles and healthy teeth.
Dr. Dan Carrier of MCHD Dentistry explains the festive atmosphere.
“We’ve got balloons, we’ve got stuffed animals. We give out a lot of free stuff. We just want to make it enjoyable and hopefully encourage the parents that this is a relationship—whether it is here at our office or with another dentist—that we want to maintain for the child.”
This makes a lot of sense. Children who have a positive experience at their early dental appointments are not only more likely to get into the habit of practicing good oral hygiene, but they’ll also be more apt to see a dentist on a regular basis.
Said one mother whose son went home with clean teeth and a toothbrush attached to a balloon following a previous GKAS: “I think you need to teach them early, because you get one set of teeth and it is very important. He loves doing it and it’s something that we can do together.”
Whitney Holmes, one of MCHD Dentistry’s registered dental hygienists who has cleaned her fair share of teeth during nine previous GKAS events, has followed the progress of one young patient.
“I can distinctly remember a very special girl who I got to see the past few years,” Whitney said. “She first came in shy and anxious for her appointment.”
After several appointments in one of MCHD Dentistry’s bright and cheerful operatories, which each feature TVs and up-to-date cleaning and X-ray equipment, that has changed, Whitney noted.
“With each passing year, she has gotten more comfortable and her hygiene has greatly improved. She now has no dental anxiety, enjoys coming to see us, and we’ve gotten to watch her grow up. She is actually going to college for medical assisting in the fall!”
Kids who attend Give Kids a Smile! will receive a cleaning and fluoride treatment as well as oral health education by a hygienist and an exam by Dr. Carrier. While the cleaning is key, the fluoride treatment helps prevent cavities so future visits are easier and less invasive.
Fluoride really can help kids maintain healthier teeth into adulthood.
And the oral health education, which includes advice on how to brush and floss at least twice daily and to avoid tobacco products, helps children learn how to help themselves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 children ages 5 to 11 years of age have at least one untreated decayed tooth, as do about 1 in 7 adolescents ages 12 to 19 years old. Those numbers double for children from low-income families compared to higher income households.
Dental assistant Velvet Urgo not only works at MCHD Dentistry but she also travels around on the mobile MCHD Smile Express. The “Smiley” dental staff so far has mostly traveled around to schools in counties as far away as Braxton to treat children all over North Central West Virginia. Velvet has seen her fair share of ways that dental care can really impact a child’s life and health.
“Give Kids a Smile! is one of my favorite days of the year,” Velvet says. “For some patients, it is their first visit, establishing a dental home, which is very important. We always strive to make it a positive experience and it is always fun to see them leave with a smile on their face!”
Children who are treated during Give Kids a Smile! must have an appointment. You can make one by calling 304-598-5108.