Carlos Marin, of Centereach, N.Y., brought his daughter Selena, 8, to get her teeth cleaned as his job doesn't offer dental coverage. Marin called the event a "great idea." (DEANNA DEL CIELLO/ THE STATESMAN)
Carlos Marin, of Centereach, N.Y., brought his daughter Selena, 8, to get her teeth cleaned as his job doesn’t offer dental coverage. Marin called the event a “great idea.” (DEANNA DEL CIELLO/ THE STATESMAN)

Three-hundred-and-fifty kids bared their teeth at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine’s 11th annual “Give Kids a Smile Day.”

The four hour event, held Feb. 1 for children aged 1 to 17, commenced at 2 p.m. at the School of Dental Medicine.

Parents bustled about with their kids in tow, registering and waiting for their appointments.

“Give Kids a Smile Day” is a national children’s dental access program that was started in 2002 in St. Louis, Mo., by a dentist who wanted to help  underprivileged children, according to Dean Ray C. Williams of the School of Dental Medicine.

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The program is held in February, which is also known as National Children’s Dental Health month.

The program provides dental access to children with insufficient health services nationwide who either cannot afford dental care or do not possess dental insurance.

Children receive free fluoride treatments and oral health education, as well as dental screenings, cleanings and sealants, if needed.

According to Williams, the school will see 250 to 400 children annually.

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Forty to 45 percent of those children become patients of the school as stated by Carol Sloane, Director of Clinic Operations.

Despite this turn out following the event, acquiring patients is not the school’s main goal.

“Rather than tell them to come back, we tell them how to get dental care,” Dr. Rhona Sherwin said.

Children leave their appointments with goodie bags and a report card detailing their dental hygiene, what needs improvement, and a list of dentists and locations where the family can receive affordable local care.

During the event, families were attended to by 63 pre-doctoral second and third year dental students.

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According to second year dental student Paola Otero, second year students serve as dental assistants while third year students perform the procedures.

The dental providers also include 10 faculty members, two pediatric dental residents, fifteen dental assistant students.

The school’s dental auxiliary staff and health professionals from the Suffolk County Dental Society are also in attendance, as well as students and faculty from Farmingdale Dental Hygiene.

According to Williams, initially the school offered free dental services to one school district in Long Island.

Eventually the school opened the event to all school districts in Suffolk County five years ago.

This year the School of Dental Medicine has partnered with three places in Suffolk County including the State University of New York at Farmingdale Dental Hygiene Clinic, St. Charles Hospital Dental Clinic in Port Jefferson and the Suffolk County Dental Society.

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The expansion of the program has even attracted politicians like Sen. John Flanagan and Assemblymen Steve Englebright, Michael Fitzpatrick and Andrew Garbarino, among others. Even Wolfie made an appearance, capturing the attention of several young children who waited for their appointments.

Inventors of the program, such as Henry Schein Dental, Colgate and Dexis, sponsor the event and help the American Dental Association provide free dental supplies.

Whatever is not supplied by the sponsors are purchased through the New York State Department of Health Preventative Grant, which was awarded to the School of Dental Medicine in July of 2011.

Faculty and student members volunteer their time to give children a smile annually in February.

Aiding the community, especially those in need, with “Give Kids a Smile Day” is vital to Stony Brook’s School of Dental Medicine.

According to Sherwin, students who do not possess such a willingness to give back and aid their community in this manner “have found the wrong place.”

“This woman and that woman would walk on coal to help one child,” Williams said of both Director of Clinic Operations Carol Sloane and Dr. Rhona Sherwin.

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1 comment

  1. Hello, I would like to know what the name of the photographer is and if I can get the pictures that were taken that day. I was a volunteer that day from Farmingdale State college. Thanks

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