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Children get free dental checkups at ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’

‘They can carry this with them for the rest of their lives’

Posted 2/8/24

ORANGE PARK – As dental student Frederick Campbell wrapped up a filling in Liam’s mouth, the 9-year-old was already biting his cheeks and tongue.

The boy’s words were muddled when he tried …

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Children get free dental checkups at ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’

‘They can carry this with them for the rest of their lives’


Posted

ORANGE PARK – As dental student Frederick Campbell wrapped up a filling in Liam’s mouth, the 9-year-old was already biting his cheeks and tongue.

The boy’s words were muddled when he tried to tell Dental Assisting Program Director Christine Eason his mouth wasn’t working.

That eventually changed when the Novocain wore off.

Liam was one of 26 children who got a free dental checkup and was taught the importance of proper oral hygiene during the Feb. 2 Give Kids a Smile Day: Spreading Smiles, One Child at a Time event at Fortis College. Children 3-17 received X-rays, cleanings, examinations, sealants, fluoride and dental supplies. Students learned the importance of patient interaction while getting hands-on experience.

“You want them to learn good habits while they’re young,” said Campus President Wyman Dickey. “If you do, they can carry this with them for the rest of their lives. It’s also a great experience for our students.”

Give Kids a Smile Day was started by the American Dental Association Foundation’s national program. Fortis joined the effort in 2009. The service also falls during National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Children learned what foods affect their teeth and how to brush them before seeing a dentist – some for the first time.

“We tell our students it’s important to make a child feel comfortable,” Dr. Joslyn A. Vann said. “You want it to be a good experience. If they feel traumatized, they won’t come back.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, one in five children aged 5-11 already suffers from tooth decay. Give Kids a Smile Day started 22 years ago in St. Louis, and it has expanded to more than 5,000 institutions serving more than six million children.

That’s why Derick brought his 3-year-old daughter, Jaylea, to the college.

“Whenever you can find dental insurance, it’s expensive,” he said. “With her only being 3, I wanted her to get checked up. I want her to learn how to take care of her teeth.”

Children’s Dental and Orthodontics reported 40% of children younger than 18 suffer from preventable tooth decay. The CDC also said of the children aged 6-8, 52% had a cavity in their baby teeth.

Fortis and the ADA want to change that.

“Getting children into pediatric dentistry is so important,” Dickey said. “That’s why this program makes a difference.”