A dental college clinic in Orem was unusually crowded on Saturday with local dentists, dental hygienists and student volunteers. It was a busy day with few breaks but everyone had a big smile because of special patients – elementary school children from low income families.
Give Kids a Smile, a locally organized charity event for Utah County, was held at the Utah College of Dental Hygiene campus on Feb. 25. A total of 26 local dentists with 35 assistants, 60 dental hygienists and 30 student volunteers from the BYU Pre-Dental club teamed up to provide over 280 patients with $116,000 worth of free dental care.
Dr. Darren Chamberlain, a pediatric dentist at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry and the lead dentist for the event, gave exciting news to one first grader.
“You have no cavities,” Chamberlain said.
The first grader’s mother, Jamie Graver, was excited to hear the news.
“As a family we have a little more time than we do money,” she said. “And so that’s where we give a little bit as opposed to going to a dental office. You’re going to probably spend a little less time, but more money, and we’ve got a little more time than money, so that’s one of the reasons that we came.”
Chamberlain said Give Kids a Smile is a great way for local dentists to get together and discuss issues and concerns of the field while giving back to children in the community.
“It allows us to be able to do dentistry in a comfortable environment and have a sense of service,” he said. “And not necessarily have to fly out of the country to a third world country because there are so many people in this community that need our services and can’t afford dental work.”
Dental hygienist volunteers performed dental x-rays, cleanings and sealings.
Brooke Beus, studying public health, was one of them.
“I think it’s such a cool experience,” Beus said. “It’s really neat seeing everyone working together. I didn’t think that it would be as neat as it has been today.”
The role of BYU’s Pre-Dental Club was to ensure the event ran smoothly. Students made sure young patients received correct treatment and educated parents on good oral hygiene.
Chris Evans, president of the club, said it is his fourth year of participating in the event.
“If anyone is looking into dentistry and trying to decide whether or not it’s for them, I’d like to suggest them to look at what we have to offer, even this wonderful service program, ” he said. “I promise it will be beneficial.”
Give Kids a Smile was originally a national organization that worked with the American Dental Association until 2005, but its Utah branch was officially disbanded last year. Two passionate volunteers from BYU, Joshua Bullock, majoring in exercise science, and Rachel Lovejoy, marketing director at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, felt strongly there was still a need for free dental care to underprivileged children. With the support of many others, Bullock and Lovejoy organized this year’s event with the financial help of local businesses and organizations including Vivint and the Larry H. Miller Foundation. The Give Kids a Smile organization gladly let them use its name for the event.
Dr. Gary Wiest, a dentist at Provo Eight North Dental Center, said the change in management of the event was positive.
“I think we can serve our community better locally and such with local leaders,” Wiest said. “In fact, actually I think it’s running more efficiently this year, because of the way [it is] organized, and I guess probably that’s just from learning from the past.”