Visiting the dentist, whether for the first time or the first time in a while, shouldn’t be a scary experience. That’s especially true for youth.
“Give Kids a Smile,” which provides free dental care for ages 3-18, is returning to North Dakota State College of Science. It lasts from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at the campus’ Mayme Green Allied Health Center, just off Fourth Street North in Wahpeton.
“It’s great to see patients who come in for the first time,” said Program Coordinator Chanel Malone. “They’re initially nervous, but by the time they come out, they’re excited and had a fun time. We’ve hopefully provided them with a really positive first or return dental experience.”
All patients must have appointments in advance. A parent or legal guardian must accompany patients younger than 18 years. To schedule an appointment, contact the Allied Dental Education Clinic at 1-800-342-4325 ext. 3-2333 or 701-671-2333.
“There isn’t a deadline to make an appointment, but we do recommend that you call in advance. If you call at the last minute, you aren’t going to be guaranteed an appointment,” Malone said.
An array of services will be available for patients. They include basic restorative procedures and simple extractions to cleanings and oral health education.
“Everyone participating is a volunteer,” Malone continued. “For a lot of students, this will be their first exposure with patients.”
Second-year dental hygiene students and first-year dental assisting students will work with pediatric and supervising dentists.
“We have Dr. Brent Holman and Dr. Carl Trout, our pediatric dentists from Fargo. We also have our supervising dentist, Dr. Scott Schaar, who’ll be providing exams for patients,” Malone said.
Approximately 40-60 youth are expected to receive care through Give Kids a Smile. The Twin Towns Area event is held in conjunction with a national campaign from the American Dental Association.
“This is designed to fill the gap for children who have dental needs but their families are uninsured or can’t afford dentistry,” Malone explained. “These kids are able to get out of dental pain or get the care they need at least once a year.”
Patients are guaranteed the minimum of a teeth cleaning and examination. From there, Drs. Holman, Trout and Schaar may either continue the treatment plan recommended by the patient’s home dentist, perform a further examination or handle restorative needs.
“The parents are very appreciative. We’re able to provide this at no cost to them, plus it gets their children out of pain,” Malone continued.
According to NDSCS, more than $16,000 worth of donated services was provided during the 2018 Give Kids a Smile. This year’s event marks Malone’s fifth as coordinator.
“It’s exciting and fulfilling,” she said. “We are fortunate to receive this support.”