July 02, 2008

Dental Hygiene wins award for kids program

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Thanks to the sixth annual Give Kids a Smile Day at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, dozens of children have brighter, healthier smiles. The effort also resulted in a statewide award for the University’s Dental Hygiene Program.

The Dental Hygiene Program captured first place in the individual/small group division of the Illinois State Dental Society’s 15th annual National Children’s Dental Health Month Award.

On an icy February day, students from the University’s Dental Hygiene Program, along with a group of about 10 area dentists and hygienists volunteering their time, provided free dental care to about 160 children. Youngsters ages 2 to 18 got oral examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fluoride and sealants. As needed, there were fillings and extractions for the children, too.

“Give Kids a Smile Day is such a rewarding learning experience for both the dental hygiene students and the children,” said Jennifer Meyer, clinical faculty member and program coordinator. “All of the faculty and students in the program are grateful for the opportunity to provide dental care to the underserved children of Southern Illinois and look forward to doing so for years to come.”

At a special breakfast Sept. 12 in St. Louis, the Society will present to the SIUC program a plaque to display in its headquarters within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. The Illinois State Dental Society’s October “Illinois Dental News” will also feature the award announcement

The SIUC Dental Hygiene Program, a baccalaureate program, had an enrollment of about 115 students for the 2007-2008 academic year. The graduating class of 2008 numbered 32. The SIUC Give Kids a Smile day placed second in the 2007 Illinois State Dental Society competition.