Utah County dentists gave kids and their parents reasons to smile this weekend as they donated their time and skills to Give Kids A Smile.
The event gave $100,000 in free dental care to children in Utah County who do not have dental insurance. It allowed the children to get a screening, treatment and a cleaning all in one day.
Give Kids a Smile is an event promoted by the American Dental Association. It was started in 2003 and was implemented in Utah County for the first time in 2005 according to Dr. Brent Molen, president of the Utah College of Dental Hygiene.The event has been held at the college since 2007.
“One of the reasons we do it here is because we’re one of the largest dental facilities in the state,” Molen said.
The program involved local dentists, their assistants, students from the Utah College of Dental Hygiene and BYU Pre-Dental Club members.
Greg Pitts, a dentist who practices in American Fork, said he has been doing volunteer work with dentistry ever since he was a dental student 15 years ago. He also said charitable service is something he continues to do with his practice he established in 1999.
“We try to do some kind of service project or humanitarian aid project once a quarter,” Pitts said.
Pitts said this particular event is one in which they always try to participate.
Parents are grateful for the opportunity it gives their children to get their teeth looked at and cleaned. Marissa Linaras said this was the first time her daughter got a cavity filled. She also said the volunteers were helpful and friendly and that the event itself was a good thing.
“It was really helpful for me and my family,” Linaras said.
Her daughter, Richelle Linaras, said she enjoyed going to the dentist and that her favorite part was getting to color pictures.
It was not just an enjoyable experience for the parents and children; it was also fun for the volunteers.
Joshua Bullock, a senior majoring in exercise science and a member of BYU’s Pre-Dental Club, has participated in this project for four years and was the volunteer coordinator this year.
He said most of the kids have never seen a dentist before and the program is great because it allows kids to get work done and be relieved of pain. He also said it is a program he wants to keep participating in once he is a dentist.
“It’s valuable because you get some hands-on experience,” Bullock said. “It’s service with dentistry.”