Fifteen-year-old France Marco C. Muna stood in line as early as 5pm, together with his mother, Marilou M. Canilao, to avail of the SDA Dental Clinic’s 6th annual Give Kids A Smile on Feb. 7, 2014.
In all, a total of 34 children were given free dental care, including dental exams, extractions, fillings, and fluoride treatment, according to SDA Clinic’s registered dental hygienist Lori Serna.
Serna said the annual event is so popular that some of the children’s families would begin queuing up as early as 5am to make sure that they are the first in line. The clinic usually opens at 8am.
Various clinic staff volunteered for the event. SDA Clinic orthodontist Dr. Warren Creed was among the staff that took care of Muña, the first child one to get in. While waiting to receive dental care, SDA accountant Lovely Lopez educated the children and their parents about taking care of their teeth.
SDA Clinic director Dr. Kenneth D. Pierson said the Give Kids A Smile is a national initiative that started a number of years ago in the U.S. mainland and is promoted by the American Dental Association. The event tries to get dentists across the nation to provide free treatment to children who don’t have access to dental care.
“That is something we totally support and that’s in line with our mission,” Pierson said, adding that they plan to do this again next year. Pierson started the event on Saipan back in February of 2009.
Serna told Saipan Tribune that one thing she would like to do is to invite all clinics—not just dental clinics—to help the community by giving away toothbrushes or making oral hygiene presentations and even volunteering.
It’s the message that SDA Clinic tries to reach to the community, in which they “need to educate policymakers and parents that good oral health goes hand in hand with overall health,” and ultimately the money spent on prevention saves a lot more money in the future on dental treatment.
The Give Kids A Smile event is an annual centerpiece of February, which is National Children’s Dental Health Month and is observed every year on the first Friday of February. It focuses on providing oral health education to all children despite their economic status. Give Kids A Smile was designed to provide education, preventative and restorative care to low-income children who do not have access to care. (Jayson Camacho)