Dental Assisting Students Help Give Local Kids a Smile

PCC Dental Assisting students pose for a group photo during their visit to Greenville's Eastern Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry this month to participate in Give Kids A Smile Day. (Contributed Photo)

GREENVILLE—Pitt Community College Dental Assisting students gained valuable hands-on experience this month through their participation in the American Dental Association Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) Day. 

The 11 students and their instructors visited Eastern Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry (EOPD) on Feb. 3 to assist dentists and other dental personnel with providing free oral health care to children in need. In a four-hour window, the group did its part to help make sure 35 children went away with a healthy smile. 

“The Dental Assisting program has participated for many years with EOPD and Give Kids A Smile,” said PCC Dental Assisting Program Director Shelby Brothers. “It is a huge learning experience for our students, who would not get pediatric dentistry experience otherwise. Volunteering also allows our students to connect with the community and provides a healthy boost to their self-confidence, self-esteem and life satisfaction.” 

Brothers said her students assisted with various dental procedures, including examinations, X-rays, dental fillings and extractions during their EOPD visit. She said they also spoke with children and their parents throughout the event, to make sure everyone receiving dental care or waiting for their child to receive care was comfortable. 

“The employees at EOPD have spoken highly of the assistance our students bring to their event,” Brothers said. “They find our students to be professional, knowledgeable and prepared to handle the duties presented to them at Give Kids A Smile.” 

Brothers says she hopes her students learned “there are patients from all walks of life who may have little to no knowledge or experience with dental care” and that teaching children the importance of good dental hygiene can positively impact the rest of their lives.  

“I also hope that our students realized that every doctor is different,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing each student have the experience of adapting to the doctors’ techniques and methods.”  

Started in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2002, GKAS is a day when dentists, dental students and dental team volunteers provide free oral health education, screenings and treatment in their local communities. The American Dental Association took the program national in 2003 to raise awareness of the importance of oral health to overall health, as well as the need that exists among millions of children who go without oral health care. GKAS events have kicked off each year since on the first Friday in February.