Fones School Hygienists Give Kids a Smile

A Fones School hygienist working with a child patient

This April 10th to 16th, the Fones School of Dental Hygiene proudly participated in the nationwide "Give Kids a Smile" event.

Sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), "Give Kids a Smile" provides full preventative dental hygiene services free of charge for all uninsured and underinsured children ages 1 to 18. The program has been national since 2003 and raises awareness about the importance of oral health. "The point of Give Kids a Smile is to focus on how important tooth care is for children and adolescents," says Director of the Fones School of Dental Hygiene Marion Manski. "Whatever child comes in is free of charge."

At the University of Bridgeport's Health Center Clinic, dental hygiene students provided exams, dental hygiene care, fluoride treatments, sealants, and x-rays to dozens of children from the area. Children that weren’t able to come during school days were able to during this week because it was their spring break; one family arrived with three. Others were referred to UB by their dentists, because the family was uninsured. "We’ve had some children who are here for their first dental appointment ever," said Dental Administrator Dr. Jennifer Boyce. "This is a great opportunity for them."

The dental hygiene faculty and students took the opportunity for oral healthcare instruction of both children and parents. "We make sure to educate the parents to understand their child’s needs and make referrals to dental homes for them," says Dr. Boyce. "The goal is to educate them so that they know how important it is to visit one dental office time after time, so that someone knows your history."

This annual event is helpful for UB's dental hygiene students, as well. They need to see a certain populations of patients before they graduate, and the Give a Kids a Smile program allows them to see a both children and adolescents. Some of the children have developed serious problems with their teeth and gums and need the immediate and meticulous attention that the Fones hygienists provide. "The most prevalent childhood disease is tooth decay," says Director Manski. "And it is completely preventable."

The pandemic of COVID-19 hampered this program across the country, but this year it has come back strong. "People feel that Fones is a safe place to go," says Dr. Boyce. "We have a reputation for the best care and cutting-edge infection control procedures." The proof is in the numbers: Fones hygienists provided twenty exams, twenty cleanings, nine full-view x-rays, eleven bitewings x-rays, twenty fluoride treatments, and forty-two sealants, with a total dollar value of services provided at nearly $8000.

This program helped the community, the UB students, and most of all the children. And, of course, everyone left with a smile.