Ann Arbor, MI — February 9, 2012 — “What a great first visit to the dentist. I am so very thankful there are programs like this to help people in need, otherwise my daughter probably would not have had the opportunity to see a dentist since we do not have dental insurance,” said Rob Birt of Ann Arbor following the annual Give Kids a Smile program held at the U-M School of Dentistry last Saturday.
Birt said his 7-year-old daughter, Gracey, who saw a dentist for the first time, told him things went well. “The staff was awesome, and it was a great opportunity for the students to help the public. Please thank the students and staff for taking such good care of her,” he said. Seven-year-old Gracey was among the 100 patients, ages 5 to 12, seen at the School of Dentistry as a part of the American Dental Association’s annual program launched in 2002.
More than 120 dental and dental hygiene students, clinical faculty members, residents, staff, and community dentists from the Washtenaw District Dental Society and Michigan Dental Association volunteered their time to participate. The value of the services provided totaled approximately $20,000 and included preventive services such as cleanings, X-rays, fluoride varnish, applications and sealants, as well as amalgam restorations, stainless steel crowns, and extractions.
“Proud of Our Volunteers”
“It was a great turnout and I’m incredibly proud of the work by all of our volunteers,” said third-year dental student Scott Michels, a co-coordinator of the event. Crystal Ammori (D3), the other event co-coordinator, agreed, adding, “As students at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, we are incredibly fortunate to have the support of the dean and other faculty members who allowed us to help the community.”
Dental students said they enjoyed participating. “This was an opportunity for me not just to give back to the community, but to develop my skills in pediatric dentistry,” said second-year dental student Dipa Patel.
Second-year dental student Doug Fujawa echoed those comments. “This year’s experience was different for me,” he said. “When I participated for the first time last year, I assisted and observed. But this time I was able to take a lead role helping these young patients, which was even more rewarding.”
For Kathryn Brown, the experience was different as a first-year dental student. “I earned my dental hygiene degree last year. But returning this year as a dental student re-affirmed my decision to build on my dental hygiene education, by studying to become a dentist, because I will then be able to do even more to help my patients,” she said.
Second-year dental hygiene students provided oral health care education and information in the patient reception area and assisted their third- and fourth-year dental hygiene colleagues in clinics. Allison Restauri and Erin Relich, faculty advisors to the Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association, thanked SADHA members for their role “organizing and orchestrating fun educational activities and supporting their colleagues who provided care during the event.”
Looking ahead, Michels hopes more first-year dental students and second-year dental hygiene students get involved next year. “Doing that will give more experienced students opportunities to perform more operative procedures, when necessary,” he said.
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care, and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the School to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia, and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.