The Saipan Seventh-day Adventist Clinic provided dental services amounting close to $15,000 during its Give Kids A Smile event last Friday.
Now on its fifth year, the annual event is held in observance of the National Children's Dental Health Month, which seeks to raise awareness of the importance of oral health care among the youth.
SDA Clinic dental hygienist Lori Serna said a total of 59 children were served by about 20 staffers during the event, with some of the youngster's families falling in line as early as 5am.
Services included dental exams, extractions, fillings, and fluoride treatment, among others.
“We were expecting more kids than we accommodated, but that's okay,” Serna said.
Siblings Kaye Anne Costales, 3, and Mark Ryan Costales, 5, were accompanied by their mother Jessica Ortizo of Chalan Piao, arriving at the site at about 8:30am.
Ortizo said they regularly avail of the free dental services offered each year by the SDA Clinic.
“It's a lot of help, especially since Medicaid is no longer accepted to pay for dental services,” she told Saipan Tribune.
Give Kids A Smile is only one of the many activities that the SDA Clinic has lined up as part of the National Children's Dental Health Month celebration this February.
Serna said that there will also be school presentations, billboard advertisements, and newspaper articles focusing on ways to prevent dental health problems.
Serna revealed that children get cavities within six months of having their first tooth.
“I think the problem is sugar,” said Serna, explaining that parents allow their youngsters to drink juices and other fluids containing sugar, which is very bad for teeth.
The intake of fruit juices should be limited and children should be encouraged to drink only milk and water, Serna added.
She also emphasized that parents need to take charge of brushing their children's teeth.
“Children really can't do a good job brushing their teeth until at least 9 years old,” she said.