A reason to smile

January 27th, 2014

D3 Steven Solis with one of the students at Cesar Chavez Learning Center

For years, TAMBCD students have assisted local dental associations during national Give Kids a Smile events. Now it’s their turn to take the lead.

A child without access to proper dental care can face pain that stretches beyond a toothache. Continual discomfort triggers a domino effect associated with lack of sleep, poor diet, decreased attention span, and inevitably, a decline in school performance.

“Everyone wanted to do more to get these kids back to a healthy dentition. Give Kids a Smile is such a meaningful, nationally recognized commitment to treating unmet needs in the community, it’s something we wanted to get involved in,” says D3 Niekia Franklin. She worked with D3 Sarah Severson and the public health sciences department to organize the first student-led Give Kids a Smile event for Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.

On Jan. 25, a dozen dental students from the college’s Student National Dental Association and Hispanic Student Dental Association chapters, along with faculty members Drs. Jonathan Clemetson, Stephen Crane and Daniel Jones, provided comprehensive care for several children at Cesar Chavez Learning Center in Dallas. Some of the volunteers performed exams and cleanings and provided fillings, sealants and fluoride in the dental school’s 39-foot, two-operatory RV. Meanwhile, others presented “Tooth Talks” to the youngsters who were on campus for Saturday morning classes.

Children selected as patients for the access-to-care initiative were required to be current students at the school, and have financial limitations and oral health problems.

“All of the people who are involved have such a great passion for serving kids,” says Franklin. “This is something that will hopefully be able to grow and become a TAMBCD tradition.”

—Jenny Fuentes

— Jennifer Fuentes