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Dental pros, students, work to ‘Give Kids a Smile’

EAU CLAIRE, WI – For moms like Ashley Schickling and Terri Lorenz, the Chippewa Valley Technical College Dental Clinic and its annual Give Kids a Smile Day event is a godsend.

Each of the Eau Claire women brought three children to Give Kids a Smile Day Friday, Feb. 9, where they received free dental care, including cleanings, examinations and dental health education.

“This is the only thing I could find for dental care that was available,” said Schickling.

“I use the dental clinic for myself and my three kids,” Lorenz said. “I had one here the other day to get a tooth pulled. Today I came to get the kids’ teeth cleaned and have a check-up.”

Give Kids a Smile Day is sponsored nationally by the American Dental Association and statewide by the Wisconsin Dental Association, which provided supplies for the event at CVTC. Local dentists, hygienists and dental assistants volunteer their time to provide the free care and are joined by CVTC Dental Hygienist and Dental assistant students as well as CVTC and Dental Clinic faculty.

“For many of these kids, this is the only time they get any sort of dental treatment. That’s why this event is so important,” said Pam Entorf, director of CVTC’s Dental Hygienist and Dental Assistant programs. “And all these people who are donating their time and talents realize it’s important. That’s why they come back to help us out year after year.”

Brooke Nelson of Mondovi brought her 5-year-old daughter, Addisyn Lindow. “We came here last year for her first-ever dental appointment,” Nelson said. “I really like to see the students doing their training with her. It’s good for Addisyn to have different people checking her out so she doesn’t get nervous.”

“We’re providing much-needed charitable care for patients who may not otherwise get care, mostly due to cost,” said Dr. David Kenyon, and Altoona dentist who volunteered his time. “We see a lot of healthy mouths here, but a lot of kids with tooth decay and sometimes bigger problems. The problems tend to be a little more severe than usual because a lot of them have not had regular care in the past.”

CVTC students involved in the event also benefit.

“We get experience working with kids,” said Carissa Clark, a Dental Hygienist student from Osseo. “It’s awesome. I love working with kids. We just had one that it was her first time at a dentist and we were able to make it fun for her.”

“Getting kids healthy is the main goal,” said student Ashley Sessions of Elk Mound. “And we get the satisfaction of knowing we we’re helping people. We work with some kids at the Dental Clinic, but this is a lot more fast-paced.”

Give Kids a Smile Day also included free health assessments by medical residents from the adjacent Prevea Health clinic, working with CVTC Nursing students.

“Our students are getting their height, weight and vital signs, then they go to the medical residents for a health screening.” said CVTC Nursing instructor Barb Satnik.

“We get practice interacting with pediatric patients,” said Kathlena Reynolds, a CVTC Nursing-Associate Degree student from Stanley. Nursing students regularly interact with patients during clinical assignments. “But this is my first time interacting with younger patients,” Reynolds continued. “I really enjoy it. This is a very good service we’re doing.”

“We have three stations for the children,” said Dr. Jennifer Eddy with Prevea. “We are checking their growth; we check their immunizations; then we do a medical exam, listening to heart and lungs.”

The CVTC Dental Clinic has been hosting Give Kids a Smile Days since the opening of the clinic with the CVTC Health Education Center in 2004.