SIU School of Dental Medicine student Kyle Horcher with Sophia and Charlie St. Peters at Give Kids a Smile Day.
ALTON — Southern Illinois University’s School of Dental Medicine hosted more than 180 children age 3 to 13 during this year’s Give Kids A Smile Day Monday, Oct. 13, at the school’s main clinic in Alton.
Free dental care, including examinations, X-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings and extractions, were provided by SIU School of Dental Medicine faculty and students, members of the Madison and St. Clair district dental societies, Lewis and Clark Community College dental assisting, and dental hygiene faculty and students from the Missouri College of Assisting. Professionals and volunteers from the community also participated.
“What sets us apart from other programs around the country is that we provide a full range of comprehensive treatment at no cost,” said Dr. Poonam Jain, professor in the SIU School of Dental Medicine and director of Community Dentistry. “There was a child here today who has come six years in a row.”
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 promotes community awareness of the need for dental services among the underserved.
In Alton, the one-day event allows an average of more than 200 children to receive care from dental professionals each year. The volunteer dentists and staff offer an annual average of more than $50,000 in preventive, restorative and surgical treatment for the children who participate.
Fun activities for children took place throughout the event. First-year dental students from the SIU School of Dental Medicine hosted a “Smile Station” featuring fun, educational activities and games to help children learn the importance of a good diet, oral hygiene and the connections between their mouths and bodies.