January 26, 2009

‘Give Kids a Smile Day’ set for Feb. 6

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The seventh annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” is set for next month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The SIUC Dental Hygiene Program, in cooperation with the Southern Illinois Dental Society and the Southern Illinois Dental Hygiene Society, will provide free dental care for kids from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the SIUC Community Dental Center. The event is open to any child age two to 18, but the goal is to help as many children as possible who are without dental insurance, providing needed care for those who might not get it otherwise.

“This program is a great collaboration between local dentists and hygienists and our program,” said Dr. Dwayne G. Summers, a clinical associate professor and director of the School of Allied Health’s Dental Hygiene Program. “It shows the public we all care and want to help as many children as we physically can. We hope we can treat a small portion of the Southern Illinois population who would otherwise go untreated.”

Appointments are preferred for treatment. Call the center at 618/453-8826 to make an appointment. Mention that you would like to schedule a time for “Give Kids a Smile Day.”

“This activity also allows the dental hygiene students to work alongside oral health providers and to be part of national community service,” said Charla J. Lautar, director of the School of Allied Health.

Summers said children experiencing dental pain could lose sleep and have problems concentrating on their schoolwork and other activities. About 18 faculty and 90 hygiene students will team with a group of local dentists and hygienists donating their time to provide the free dental care. Kids can get examinations, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and, if required, fillings or simple extractions.

Jennifer M. Meyer, clinical instructor, is coordinator of “Give Kids a Smile Day.” The Dental Hygiene Program is part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

The University’s 2008 Give Kids a Smile program took first place in the individual/small group division of the Illinois State Dental Society’s 15th annual National Children’s Dental Health Month Award. That icy February 2008 day, about 160 children got free dental care. SIUC’s event captured second place the preceding year.

Summers said he anticipates more than 200 children will have better smiles courtesy of the 2009 Give Kids a Smile Day at SIUC.