The College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will hold its annual Give Kids a Smile Day February 23, providing free dental services to 97 children and teens from Freedom Preparatory Academy in Memphis.
For roughly a decade, the UTHSC College of Dentistry has participated annually in Give Kids a Smile Day, a program launched in 2003 by the American Dental Association to provide free dental services to children through the help of volunteers.
At UTHSC, the dental procedures will be performed by fourth-year dental students, along with dental hygiene students, under the supervision of faculty. Some of the procedures provided include examinations, cleanings, fillings, extractions, and fluoride applications.
Orpheus Triplett, DDS, assistant dean for Community Oral Health and Outreach for the college, said the event “allows us to increase access to care to children from neighborhoods where that access may be limited, and at the same time, it increases our visibility in the city and in those neighborhoods represented by the schools and children engaged in the program. It is a win-win for all, and the student interaction from both entities is invaluable.”
In years past, the event has served students from sixth through eighth grades. This year, it will expand to include high school students as well from the Flagship Middle School and Brownlee Middle School campuses of Freedom Preparatory Academy. The students will be on campus from 8 a.m. through noon.
“This later-teen age group is preparing to transition to adulthood and their oral hygiene techniques need to evolve from their childhood practices. This is a perfect time to provide individualized oral hygiene instruction that meets the specific needs of each student,” said Cassandra Christiansen, RDH, MPA, EdD, associate professor and director of School-Based Programs and Community Outreach for the College of Dentistry.
“Freedom Prep Charter Schools is honored to continue growing our partnership with UTHSC,” said Alexis Rosado, senior manager of Development & External Affairs for the school. “The support from the UTHSC staff, students, and volunteers allows our students to feel safe, seen, and empowered by the Greater Memphis community. Together, we work with families to transform their lives one smile and graduate at a time.”