ECU News Services
student Melanie Smith (left) and pediatric dentistry faculty member Dr. Loren
Alves with Dayton Cain Powers following his screening at the recent Give Kids a
Smile event in Greenville. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)
Feb. 6, 2017
By Peggy NovotnyUniversity Communication
Lillington resident Leiah Patrick took home a flier from school inviting her to
a children’s dental care event at the local ECU School of Dental Medicine
Community Service Learning Center, her mother Brenda jumped at the chance to
have her daughter screened for oral health problems.
During the Feb.
4 Give Kids a Smile event, Leiah and 50 other Harnett County children hopped up
into dental chairs and allowed teams of dentists, dental residents and
students, dental hygienists, and dental assistants to screen their mouths for
cavities, broken teeth, infections and other potentially threatening oral
The teams also delivered
cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments that will help defend the children’s
primary and adult teeth from cavities.
didn’t have cavities, many of her peers did, along with infections and a range
of other oral health problems.
“I’m so happy
about what’s happened here for Leiah,” said her mother. “Everybody has been
wonderful. I’m really glad this center is here. We’ll definitely come back.”
scheduled follow-up appointments for their children to begin receiving care from
the center’s dental faculty, residents, fourth-year dental students and staff. ECU
offers dental care at reduced cost and accepts patients enrolled in North
Carolina dental Medicaid.
The American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile program
is the annual centerpiece of National Children’s Dental Health Month. In early
February, many of the nation’s dentists provide free oral health care services
to underserved children across the country while aiming to increase awareness
of the ongoing challenges that disadvantaged children face in accessing dental
“Give Kids a Smile is
another avenue for our school to improve oral health by letting kids who might
not otherwise have the opportunity to see a dentist come in and receive screenings
so they can get started on improving their oral health,” said Dr. Greg
Chadwick, dean of the dental school.
also raise awareness of our state’s access-to-care challenge and help get the
public and community leaders engaged.”
On Feb. 3 in Greenville,
ECU School of Dental Medicine faculty, residents, students and staff joined
forces with the East Central Dental Society to hold a Give Kids a Smile event
at the office of Eastern Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. Local dentists
and volunteers completed crowns, extractions, fillings, X-rays and sealants for
showing the amount of sugar in popular beverages caught the attention of many
children and parents. Most were surprised to learn that a 12-ounce can of soda contains
10 teaspoons of sugar.
“There is a lot
of public education to be done concerning oral health care,” said Dr. Christopher
Cotteril, the dental school’s division director of pediatric dentistry. “Events
like Give Kids a Smile are important, but families need to take responsibility
for their oral health. Cavities are a preventable disease in most cases, and a
daily regimen of brushing and flossing along with controlling diet and seeing a
dental professional regularly can save suffering and expense.”
young children need to know they cannot just hand a toothbrush to a 2-year-old
and expect them to brush effectively, he said. "Brushing and flossing need to be
supervised until children can do a good job on their own; for most children,
that’s about the age of 8.”
The dental school’s
Community Service Learning Centers in Ahoskie, Elizabeth City and Brunswick
County also recently provided screenings, cleanings and fluoride treatments for
local children. The Davidson County center will hold an event Feb. 11.
health care organizations participated in Give Kids a Smile across the various locations,
offering health screenings, nutrition information, medicine adherence
counseling and referral services. Partners included the Pitt County Health
Department, ECU’s Brody School of Medicine, ECU’s College of Nursing, James and
Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center, Harnett County
Health Department, Campbell University and Central Carolina Community College.
Since Give Kids
a Smile began in 2003, more than 21,950 volunteers across North Carolina have
provided over $13.7 million in dental care to more than 185,000 children,
according to the North Carolina Dental Society.