In celebration of Children’s Dental Health Month, the Give Kids a Smile Day (GKASD) at Truckee Meadows Community College is for the first time opening up to all children in the Northern Nevada region.
In past years, the day was offered to children of TMCC students and staff. This year, any child between the ages of six and 13 needing dental hygiene care can participate in the event on the Dandini Campus taking place Saturday, Feb. 27.
Services are free, but provided by appointment only. Appointments are available between 8 a.m. and Noon, and may be scheduled by calling Julie Stage-Rosenberg, Dental Hygiene Professor at 775-673-8279.
Volunteer student dental assistants and hygienists, TMCC faculty and a doctor of dentistry offer children’s dental screenings and no-cost services at this annual event. Give Kids a Smile Day (GKASD) at TMCC is part of the American Dental Association’s national observance of a day just for children.
Free dental health services include:
- Dental exams
- Check-up X-rays
- Dental cleanings
- Fluoride treatments
- Dental sealants
- Referrals, if needed
“Dental sealants can be a significant factor in preventing cavities in the back molar teeth, ” Stage-Rosenberg said. She adds that parents who work sometimes don’t have paid time off to bring their children to the dentist on weekdays.
“Some parents simply can’t take time off during the week, and our Give Kids a Smile Day is on a Saturday,” she said. “The event also benefits families who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford dental insurance. Even if a child does have dental insurance, parents can still bring them to our free day. We will make appointments until the day is fully scheduled.”
David Lund, D.D.S., will be conducting the dental exams for the event. He teaches part-time at TMCC.
Twelve second-year Dental Hygiene Program students will be providing care for Give Kids a Smile Day along with Dental Assisting Program students. The hygienists are in their 4th semester of a four-semester program, and they are supervised by Dr. Lund and Prof. Stage-Rosenberg. Dental Assisting faculty will supervise their students. They include Julie Muhle, Dental Assisting Coordinator; Linda McGillicuddy, Dental Assisting Professor; and Sandra Martinez, Dental Assisting Instructor.
“Dental hygiene students benefit from the day by being able to work more autonomously with limited intervention from teachers,” Stage-Rosenberg said. “They get to do a run-through like they’re in private practice. Also, the event fosters a concern for giving back to their community.”
First-year dental hygiene students are helping out with the office tasks, as well.
TMCC’s GKASD is funded through its volunteers and the Lee R. Del Grande Community Service Grant. This grant supported the 2013-2015 events, and will fund this year’s program.
“Lee R. Del Grande has been so very generous to help children receive oral health care,” Stage-Rosenberg said.
The American Dental Association (ADA) began the Give Kids a Smile program in 2003 to encourage dental professionals’ engagement in giving care to underserved children of their communities. Each year at Give Kids a Smile Day events, about 300,000 children receive dental care at approximately 1,500 locations by more than 40,000 volunteers, according to ada.org.
This will be TMCC’s tenth year participating in GKASD, and several private dental offices in town also participate independently. Some of the dental offices held their event closer to the beginning of the month when TMCC’s semester was just getting started, so Stage-Rosenberg decided to wait until later in February. Data about the services provided and number of children treated is reported back to the ADA.
“I’m very committed to helping the underserved, and promoting oral health because it’s such an integral and important part of overall health,” Stage-Rosenberg said. “By providing free care to children, we’re also encouraging parents to pursue yearly check-ups for family members,” Stage-Rosenberg said.