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Middlesex County College Gives Smiles to Kids

"Give Kids a Smile Day" is a national event that provides free dental care to children whose families cannot afford regular care.

On Feb. 1, Middlesex County College and a network of volunteer dental care professionals provided free dental care to approximately 70 kids as part of Give Kids a Smile Day.

The annual event was started by the American Dental Association. It is offered to families who do not have access to regular dental care for their children.

Middlesex County College has hosted the event for 10 years.

The college had a volunteer army of 13 dentists and 56 dental assistants on hand to clean teeth, perform fillings, extractions and examinations, take x-rays, and perform emergency dental work, said Hope Holbeck, Chair of the Dental Hygiene department.

Twenty-seven dental hygienist students assisted the dentists and hygienists by bringing children to the stations, running supplies and showing kids the proper way to brush. The students were in their second year of the two-year program and near graduation, she said.

The dental hygiene program at the college is taught in a full dental lab that also offers cleanings and x-rays to the community for a small fee.

Jessica De Guzman, 25, of New Brunswick, dressed up as "Wonder Toothbrush" and escorted the young patients to the dental chairs and showed them the proper way to brush.

"It's a good profession," she said, of her choice to become a dental hygienist. "I'm helping people make sure they have a healthy mouth."

De Guzman graduates from the program in May and plans to go work at a dental office after graduation. She hopes to go back for a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene within a few years.

"For many children, there is no other (dental care) option," said Lynn Tobin, a faculty member in the dental hygiene department.

The dentists in attendance bring their own supplied to work with, many bring their own staff, and if the child has a condition that needs a lot of work, some have offered to finish the work for free at their offices, Tobin said.

"These dentists who come are real givers," she said. 

For more information on the dental hygiene program at Middlesex County College, click here.

nyscof February 05, 2013 at 01:01 PM
The real problem is that most dentists won't treat these people the rest of the year because they want more money to do so. Untreated tooth decay has become a national epidemic because 80% of dentists refuse to treat Medicaid patients, 130 million Americans don't have dental insurance and many of those that do can't afford dentistry's high out of pocket expenses. There is a solution - to allow dental therapists to work in the US as they do in other developed countries. They just need a few years training and are able to drill, fill and pull teeth as well as dentists but will do it more cheaply and treat the people that dentists won't or can't. The problem is that organized dentistry, with its pockets full of corporate cash, lobby all state legislators to shun dental therapists because they don't want any viable solutions to infringe upon its lucrative monopoly. So it might seem that kind dentists are doing charitable work but they have caused the problem in the first place

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