For the seventh consecutive year, the dental clinic at CVTC’s Heath Education Center, a partnership with the Marquette University School of Dentistry, was the local host for “Give Kids a Smile,” an annual event sponsored nationally by the American Dental Association and locally by the Chippewa Valley Dental Society.
Dentists from throughout the Eau Claire area and many of their staff members volunteered their time to offer free oral care to children between the ages of 2 and 13 whose families struggle to afford regular visits to a dentist.
“For many of these kids, this is the only time they get any sort of dental treatment. That’s why this event is so important,” said Pam Entorf, director of CVTC’s Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant programs. “And all these people who are donating their time and talents realize it’s important. That’s why they come back to help us out year after year.”
This year’s event was promoted more effectively among the CVTC student population, resulting in several students bringing their children to the clinic for the kind of dental care they often can’t afford, Pam said.
In addition to local dental professionals, including several graduates of CVTC’s Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant programs, current students from those programs also helped out during Friday’s event. Dental Hygienist students cleaned children’s teeth and took X-rays, while Dental Assistant students prepared the treatment rooms, sterilized instruments, and processed X-rays.
For these students, the day was a great way to gain practical experience while simultaneously fulfilling a portion of the service learning requirement for graduation, Pam said.
In addition to having their teeth cleaned, children attending Friday’s event also received a variety of preventative cares, including fluoride treatments and sealants. Many children also received fillings or had teeth extracted. And all were taught the basics of proper oral hygiene.
Faculty from CVTC’s dental programs spent the day “directing traffic,” Pam said. And there was much traffic to be directed, as more than 150 children were treated.
For much of the day, the dental clinic waiting area overflowed with parents and their children anticipating their turn to be treated. Some children passed the time watching the popular cartoon film “The Incredibles,” while others sat wide-eyed at the bustle that surrounded them.
In the rear of the waiting area, those so inclined could educate themselves as they waited by perusing a series of posters displaying information on such topics as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hormonal influences on pregnancy, the danger to oral health posed by sweetened drinks, and the connection between tobacco use and oral cancer.
While Friday was the seventh consecutive year for “Give Kids a Smile” in Eau Claire, CVTC previously hosted the event at its campus in Menomonie, Pam said.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” she said. “And I hope we’ll be doing it for a long time to come.”