January 18, 2008

Sixth annual 'Give Kids a Smile Day' set for Feb. 1

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Volunteers from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the region will spruce up childhood grins during the sixth annual "Give Kids a Smile Day" next month.

The SIUC Dental Hygiene Program, in conjunction with the Southern Illinois Dental Society and the Southern Illinois Dental Hygiene Society, will provide free dental care to area children from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at SIUC's Community Dental Center. Children ages two to 18 can receive examinations, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and if needed, fillings and simple extractions courtesy of about a dozen dentists from the region along with dental hygienists and dental hygiene students.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover "Give Kids a Smile Day" Feb. 1 at the SIUC Community Dental Center. For more information, contact Jennifer Meyer, clinical faculty member and program coordinator, at 618/453-2353.

"'Give Kids a Smile Day' is open to any child between two and 18 but it's really targeted toward children without dental insurance, those who might not otherwise get the treatment they need because their parents don't have insurance and can't afford to pay," said Dr. Dwayne G. Summers, a clinical associate professor and director of the School of Allied Health's Dental Hygiene Program.

Appointments are preferred for the dental treatment. To make an appointment, call the center, located within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, at 618/453-2353 and mention that the visit is for "Give Kids a Smile Day."

Summers said the event's benefits are many. Dental pain children experience can result in loss of sleep, problems concentrating in school and other difficulties. The children's visits also include oral hygiene education and special activities. The day is also a positive experience for faculty, staff and community volunteers in terms of teamwork, honing their skills, working with children and doing something positive to help others.

"The goal is to see underserved children in our area," Summers said. "A lot of the parents don't have insurance and there's virtually no place they can afford to take their kids. We have 18 faculty, 90 hygiene students, four local hygienists and about a dozen area dentists who will totally donate their time to provide much-needed dental treatment for these kids."

"This is a great example of a partnership between professionals and students working together for the good of the community," said Charla J. Lautar, associate professor and director of the School of Allied Health. "Each year this event gets bigger and better!"

Jennifer M. Meyer, assistant instructor, is coordinator for " Give Kids a Smile Day." The Dental Hygiene Program is a component of the School of Allied Health.

SIUC participates annually in the American Dental Association's national program during National Children's Dental Health Month. More than 250 children benefited from the free dental treatment in 2007. The program garnered statewide honors from the Illinois State Dental Society in the form of a second-place participation award in the individual/small group category.