West Virginia University’s Dental School is bringing back its annual “Give Kids A Smile!” program this Friday to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month.
“It’s a free service, [parents] just have to make an appointment,” Gina Graziani, Interim Associate Dean for Advanced Education Assistant Professor and Chair, said. “We’re able to do an oral evaluation, hopefully, take radiographs if they’re indicated, do a cleaning, apply fluoride varnish, and really most importantly, it’s to help set up a dental home for parents.”
Children can visit by appointment for a free teeth cleaning and other services at the WVU Pediatric Dentistry Clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments can be made by calling 304-293-6208.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics, an early visit enables a dentist to determine the child’s risk of cavities so that preventive action can be taken to avoid cavities.
The program also teaches its younger patients about oral hygiene and dietary care to reduce the risks of getting cavities in the future.
“We promote that children should have their first oral health visit by age one, and that’s to talk about diet and hygiene habits, so ‘Give Kids A Smile Day!’ is about education too,” Graziani said.
Graziani said there are less than 20 pediatric dentists in the state of West Virginia.
“My goal is to help train more pediatric dental providers that can take care of the kids in our state,” she said.
According to the School of Dentistry, participants in past years have ranged from existing to first-time patients.
The School also estimates that dental students and faculty provide more than $100 worth of services for each child, expecting to see children every 45 minutes for around 60 patients by the end of the day.
The School of Dentistry recently applied for its new advanced education program, which specializes in pediatric dentistry, to receive its initial accreditation.
“Pediatric dentists work to take care of the more difficult cases of severe early childhood caries in really young children. We provide sedation services for the children that have just too severe of dental needs to meet without any kind of sedation medication,” Graziani said.
Many patients get referred to WVU Dental from their pediatric dental providers, and sometimes from WVU Dental to WVU Children’s Hospital for special cases, according to Graziani.
“We think a lot about growth and development and trying to provide the overall best care for our younger populations and also our medically compromised populations,” she said.