Southern Illinois University’s School of Dental Medicine this week treated more than 120 children between 3 and 13 at its 12th annual Give Kids A Smile Day at the main clinic in Alton.
Give Kids A Smile Day comprises free comprehensive dental care, including examinations, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings and extractions. All dental services were provided by SIU SDM faculty, students and staff, members of the Madison and St. Clair district dental societies, and Lewis and Clark Community College dental assisting and dental hygiene faculty and students. Professionals and volunteers from the community also participated.
“We are always excited to provide treatment to hundreds of children, address their dental concerns and have some fun at the same time,” said Katie Kosten, DMD, assistant professor in the SIU SDM and director of community dentistry. “Along with dental treatment, we provide education, games, and some additional health screenings for all the children who participated.”
Volunteer Michael Todd, DMD, is an SIU SDM alumnus who enjoys the School’s mission to give back to the community. “No one likes to see children experiencing tooth pain, so through these programs we’re able to treat a lot of children,” Todd said. “I hope they leave here feeling as if this was a great experience and this is a wonderful place to bring your children, and that they realize how important it is to take care of your teeth.”
Give Kids A Smile Day is a national event sponsored by the American Dental Association to provide free dental treatment for underserved children. The event is organized to promote community awareness of the need for dental services among the underserved. The volunteer dentists and staff offer an annual average of more than $50,000 in preventive, restorative and surgical treatment for the children who participate.
Portia Gardner, of Alton, brought her seven-year-old daughter to the event held Monday. “We love free dental care,” Gardner said. “This is our third year coming. She likes the activities, the face painting, the balloons and getting a little bag of goodies, so it’s very nice.”
Fun activities for children take place throughout the event. First-year dental students from the SIU SDM hosted a “Smile Station” featuring fun, educational activities and games to help children learn the importance of a good diet and oral hygiene.
Lexi Nash, a first-year dental student from Lebanon, served as one of the tooth fairies on hand to help the children. “All the dental students are excited to help the kids, but we’re helping them in different ways,” Nash said. “First and second year students are helping the kids feel more comfortable by playing the games and learning about oral health in the Smile Station. The third and fourth year students are helping them chairside and performing the dental care.”
PHOTO: Tommy Dinges, Cody, Eden and Joey Shepley from Kankakee visit the SIU School of Dental Medicine’s 2017 Give Kids A Smile Day.