More than 200 volunteers met approximately 90 children at the UNC School of Dentistry to provide free dental care services and overall health education at the school’s Give Kids a Smile Day event.
The Durham Head Start children, ages 3-5, received dental treatment from UNC School of Dentistry student dentists, hygienists and residents during the morning of Friday, Feb. 5. The care – which was provided to more than 50 of the attending children – included an oral screening, fluoride varnish treatment and, when necessary, referral to another facility for further dental care. If provided through private practice, the care would have cost more than $5,000 in total.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to give these kids both the healthcare and education we’re able to provide here, and we’re appreciative of the administration creating time in the academic schedule for this event,” said Natalie Dunlop, event co-chair. “As a committee, we were so surprised and excited by the volunteer response we received this year from the students, faculty, and staff from all departments. This support means that we are hoping to bring in even more kids next year.”
Dunlop planned the event with fellow co-chairs Ben Anders and Mackenzie Hatfield, both DDS candidates 2016, Taylor Harlan and Janice Ko, both DDS candidate 2018, and Jaehee Yoo, DDS candidate 2019, as well as a committee made up primarily of student volunteers.
The school’s Give Kids a Smile Day event is different than most because it’s an interprofessional event. In addition to receiving dental care, children who attended the event also attend a health fair. The volunteers from dentistry were joined by those from the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC School of Nursing, the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC athletics to offer a focus on overall health. The multi-station health fair included one station designed to get the children moving, a “Be the Dentist” station where the children dressed like a dentist, and a variety of other stations that shared information on hand washing, the difference in medicine and candy, good nutrition habits, how your body works, and how to brush your teeth.
The event, which was the third of its kind at the school, was held in conjunction with the American Dental Association’s annual Give Kids a Smile Day, a program that began 14 years ago to address and raise awareness of untreated dental disease in children.