Dental students provide $61K in free care for kids

Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (SIU SDM) hosted its 17th annual Give Kids a Smile Day on Monday, Oct. 10, offering free comprehensive dental care to 129 children between the ages of 3-13.

More than $61,000 worth of care was provided for free.

“The SIU School of Dental Medicine is an important asset to the community as we provide access to care for patients who have difficulty securing a dentist that can serve their comprehensive needs,” said Katie Kosten, DMD, SIU SDM director of community dentistry. “The dental school provides an opportunity for patients to receive care from start to finish. We really reinforce the need to establish a dental home and we are happy to be that for patients throughout the region.”

The care provided ranged from exams, x-rays and cleanings to treatment including stainless steel crowns, fillings and extractions. All services were provided by SIU SDM faculty, students, staff and volunteer dental professionals.

“My kids had never been to a dentist before coming here,” said Patti Dobelman, a mom from Bethalto who has brought her kids to Give Kids a Smile Day for the past four years. “The dental students are relatable to the kids and make them comfortable. It is very convenient and a big cost savings.”

“I want my kids to have healthy teeth,” added Christopher Blake, a dad from Granite City who brought his three kids to the event for the first time. “Maybe they won’t drink such sugary drinks. The students are educating them on how to brush their teeth.”

This year, the SIU School of Dental Medicine brought back its Smile Stations. First- and second-year dental students hosted engaging activities to teach the young patients about the importance of oral health and offered them a positive association with the dentist as happy helpers and healers.

“It has been a really fun day,” said first-year dental student Brooke Hudson, of Granite City, who was dressed up as a tooth fairy. “We are encouraging the kids to get involved with the activities after they receive their treatment and get them excited about oral health.”

Give Kids a Smile Day is a national event sponsored by the American Dental Association to provide free dental treatment for underserved children. The event is organized to promote community awareness of the need for dental services among the underserved.

SIU School of Dental Medicine students manage about 35,000 patient visits each year at patient clinics in Alton and East St. Louis. In addition, students offer oral health treatment, screenings and education to more than 10,000 people annually through a wide variety of off-campus community outreach events.



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