Annual Give Kids a Smile Event on Feb. 29

Smiling child holding a dental x-ray.
Rebecca A. Eckland

This is the first year TMCC Dental Hygiene student Emily Scott will participate in TMCC’s annual Give Kids a Smile (GKaS) event as a clinician. Last year, she participated as a Dental Assisting student. She said that both years, however, were incredible learning experiences. “Working with patients is always very rewarding,” she said.
It’s Scott’s final semester in the Dental Hygiene program, and the Give Kids a Smile event enables her and her fellow students an opportunity to work together while giving back to the community using the skills they have learned in the Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs. 
This year, GKaS is happening Saturday, February 29 from 7:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Read more about this annual event, and be sure to reserve your spot by making an appointment.

A Day in the Life

If you’ve never attended a GKaS, it is much like what you could expect from a typical visit to your neighborhood dental office: you arrive at your appointment time and you fill out paperwork on your child. Then, the dental assistant or hygienist reviews the health history of your child with you. From there, the dental assistant takes and develops x-rays while the dental hygienist cleans your child’s teeth, and provides a fluoride treatment and dental sealants, as needed. The appointment ends with a brief lesson about oral hygiene and (arguably the best part): your child is given a goodie bag filled with age-appropriate, dental-themed gifts. This year, participating children will receive a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. 
Because GKaS offers free dental care for children between the ages of five and thirteen, there’s lots of excitement in the TMCC Dental Clinic. “The kids are so excited when they come in, “said Scott. “They think you’re the doctor—they don’t understand the difference between us and the dentist who is here overseeing our work. But, it’s fun—we’re opening their eyes to their futures.”

More About GKaS

GKaS is a national campaign launched by the American Dental Association in 2003. To date, more than 5.5 million underserved children have received free oral care thanks to the 40,000 dental professionals—including TMCC staff and students—who participate. TMCC has hosted its own GKaS event for thirteen years, offering free cleaning and sealants to children in our community that might not otherwise have access to care.
“It’s on the weekend and it’s free,” said Scott, who encourages parents to bring their children to this annual event. “It doesn’t take long, and it’s going to be cold outside that weekend anyway, so there are a lot of reasons why parents and their children should make an appointment and come to the event.” Scott also mentioned that this will be TMCC’s big debut for its newly remodeled dental clinic. “The most exciting part is that we’ll be able to show off the new clinic, with all the new equipment,” she said. 
The event has the potential to change lives, said Scott, and not just because of the free dental care and education on the importance of oral health—although those are certainly important, too. 
“Growing up, I thought the dental assistants at my orthodontist’s office were so hip and cool,” said Scott. “I couldn’t wait to see all the tools—the cleaning mechanisms, and that suction tube.” Positive experiences in the dental chair as a child inspired Scott to pursue a career as a dental hygienist.  It’s something she glimpses in the children she treats at the GKaS event. 
Giving back, though, is what makes the event especially memorable, said Scott who has participated in several community service events thanks to her instructors at TMCC. “It’s almost selfish because you feel so good afterward. But, it’s important to get involved and to help others in need.”  The GKaS event aims to do exactly that.

Make an Appointment to Attend GKaS Today

If you have a child between the ages of five and thirteen in need of oral care, make an appointment to attend GKaS on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 7:45 a.m.–12:45 p.m. The event is free and spaces are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, but you must reserve your spot in advance by calling Dental Hygiene Professor Julie Stage-Rosenberg at 775-673-8279.  
If you are searching for cost-effective dental services year-round, look no further than TMCC’s Dental Clinic, which is open to the public. TMCC Dental Hygiene students, who are overseen by TMCC faculty, provide services.  These services are offered at a very low cost to people of all ages throughout the academic year. Contact the Dental Hygiene Program for more information about becoming a patient.
For more information about TMCC’s Dental Assisting Program, call 775-673-7115. For more information about the Dental Hygiene Program, call 775-673-8247.