Clark’s Dental Hygiene Program will be performing free care for Children’s Dental Health Day at 8 a.m. on Saturday in the Clark College Dental Hygiene Clinic.
Patients 18 years or younger are able to get free cleanings, x-rays, exams and fluoride treatments from dental hygiene students. The event goes until all patients have been treated, said Kristi Taylor, a dental hygiene professor at Clark.
“I think this fills that need for children who need to have the care but don’t have a place to go to find that care,” Taylor said.
There’s a communal need for more accessible dental services, according to a document released by the Washington State Department of Health. This statement said that 44 percent of children under the age of 5 have never visited a dentist, and that kids from non-English speaking families were significantly more likely to have never had dental care.
One hundred children usually attend the event, and 30 to 40 children return annually, Taylor said.
Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from this event; it also gives dental hygiene students an opportunity to practice their craft. Taylor said dental students who are in at least their second year of training are able to treat the kids. All students are supervised by licensed dentists, who are also available for emergency procedures.
Senior dental hygiene students Stephanie Pfeifer and Casey Hedeen agreed that the event helped teach them important dentistry skills. They said the logistics of keeping the event running smoothly was the most challenging part of being involved.
“Just being able to reach out to the community and serve,” said Pfeifer, describing what she liked best about the event. “Anyone in healthcare has that want for serving the community, especially those who don’t have access to care.”
The event is paid for by Clark’s Student American Dental Hygienist Association, the Clark County Dental Society and donations from local dental supply companies, Taylor said. Walk-ins are accepted but appointments are prefered. Call the Dental Hygiene Business Office
at 360-992-2158 to schedule a visit.