Dental professionals volunteer to Give Kids a Smile

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Maggie Blackwell
The office at Busby and Webb was filled with 150 excited kids who waited to have their teeth coated Friday.
Nine dentists and orthodontists volunteered their time and materials to coat kids’ molars with protective sealant. Dental assistants and office personnel volunteered their time as well.
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars), where most decay occurs.
Dentists’ offices typically charge about $50 per tooth for the coating. Most kids have four teeth coated. The estimated value of donated services and materials for the day was $27,000.
School systems all around North Carolina are participating in the program, aptly named “Give Kids a Smile.”
Deborah Krueger is a public health dental hygienist who serves the Rowan-Salisbury School System. An employee of the state, Krueger organizes the local “Give Kids a Smile” events each year. In addition to attaining volunteer dental staff, she plans with schools and the school transportation department to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Krueger organized a similar event last month for Koontz Elementary School students. That event ran into lunchtime, so Koontz Principal Rick Dunlap rescheduled lunch for the day.
“I can’t say enough about the cooperation of the schools,” Krueger said.
Krueger also educates students on oral hygiene. All children being seen Friday had attended classes to understand the process.
Energy filled the waiting room as kids waited their turns. Some seemed to have a good understand; some did not.
“Sealant is white stuff they put on your teeth to keep them healthy,” said Jocelyn Poag, a third-grader at Granite Quarry Elementary. “I am excited and this is fun.”
Weixuan Jia (woo-ZHAN jaw) is also a Granite Quarry third-grader. His take on the dental sealant was, “It is not a shot. It will clean the bacteria.”
Jesus Barron, 9, was a little concerned about what he was missing. “They checked to see if I have cavities. I had to skip math today. Math is my best subject.”
No one could match the enthusiasm of Granite Quarry student Cole McGraw.
“It was like you swallowed a little camera and it goes into your tooth. Then it dries up and sometimes it hurts,” he said. “They they put a light in and I looked like an alien. It feels good.”
The doctors in the exam room were also quite enthusiastic.
Bret Busby has participated in the program for four years. He was pleased to be able to host the program this year.
“It’s important in these tough economic times to be able to give to the community. We like to give in good times and bad, but it’s really nice to be able to help this year.”
Other veterans of the program helped Friday, too. Dr. Robert Ogden, a local dentist, has helped for seven years.