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Free Dental Care Gives Northern California Families a Reason to Smile

Volunteers at Give Kids A Smile in Stockton.

February  08, 2012

Hundreds of families gathered at two University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry clinics on Saturday, Feb. 4 to participate in Give Kids A Smile, a nationwide event sponsored by the American Dental Association. Give Kids A Smile offers a chance for the Dugoni School to partner with local dental professionals to offer free screenings, treatment and oral health education to low-income families.

At Pacific's Dental Care Clinic in Stockton, hundreds of volunteers spent their day at the clinic's most widely-attended Give Kids A Smile event to date. More than 320 kids received treatment, and thousands of dollars worth of dental services were donated. Families lined up early in the morning to receive care, participate in educational games and take home free dental goodies.

Give Kids A Smile Stockton Tooth Fairy

The "Tooth Fairy" visits with a child attending Give Kids A Smile in Stockton.

The Stockton Give Kids A Smile event was hosted by Pacific and the San Joaquin Dental Society, and drew nearly 250 dental professionals as volunteers which included the largest group of Dugoni School volunteers to ever participate in a Give Kids A Smile event. Joining faculty and pediatric staff, DDS and IDS students travelled to Stockton from San Francisco to partner with the Dugoni School's dental hygiene students on behalf of the school's Student Community Outreach for Public Education (SCOPE) Program. Together they screened, treated, education and entertained families in attendance.

"What a sight Give Kids A Smile was! Every chair in Pacific's Stockton clinic was full," commented Cindy Lyon, chair of Dental Practice at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. "Seasoned practitioners (including many Pacific alumni); Pacific residents; dental and dental hygiene students; pediatric specialists; our DAU teaching assistants; and Pacific faculty were all working shoulder to shoulder to provide care to terrific families. The energy and collegial sprit were palpable, and the patient connections were touching and humbling. The event reminded us how lucky we are to be in our profession and able to serve our community on this day, and really, every day."

Give Kids a Smile 2012

Student, faculty, staff and alumni volunteers at Give Kids a Smile in Stockton.

In the East Bay at the school's Union City Dental Care Center, a separate Give Kids A Smile event was held in partnership with the Southern Alameda County Dental Society. The Union City Dental Care Center and Southern Alameda County Dental Society have had a longstanding relationship with Give Kids A Smile and throughout the years have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free care. This year, they donated more than $35,000 worth of care.

In Union City volunteer dental professionals from the Southern Alameda County Dental Society; clinic faculty, residents and staff; and student volunteers joined forces to treat 73 local children. They provided screenings, fluoride varnishes and more complex procedures such as fillings, crowns, root canals and extractions. Attending families also received oral hygiene instructions, free toothbrushes and entertainment.

"I am touched by the extremely positive feedback we've received from families who attended our Give Kids A Smile events this year," said Janet Fricke, CDA, RDA, and Dental Auxiliary Utilization instructor at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. "This event really makes a difference for families in need. I'm extremely grateful for and proud of the many volunteers who gave up much of their weekend to make this event a reality."

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children Foundation, of the 4 million children born each year, more than half will have cavities by the time they reach second grade. A study issued in 2010 by the Pew Center on the States, shows that three out of every four children who live in poor families have untreated cavities, and fewer of those kids are making regular visits to their dentists than in previous years.

The dental school will also be participating in a Give Special Kids A Smile event for children with special needs on Saturday, March 3. The event will take place at Alameda County's Highland General Hospital Dental Clinic in Oakland from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. It will offer free dental screenings, oral hygiene review, caries (cavities) risk assessment, fluoride varnish and possible minimally invasive procedures if needed by the patient. Families with special needs children who are interested in learning more or registering are asked to call 510.437.4101 or 510.437.4522 before Friday, March 2 at 3:00 pm.

Category Type: Community Outreach, Special Events, University

Contact:  Office of Public Relations, 415.929.6434, pr@pacific.edu