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ADS free sealant & prophy day

Smiles all around

ADS01The participants arrived April 10 at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry feeling excited and apprehensive. Some showed their nerves with laughter. Some were quiet. Many burned off nervous energy by staying busy, while a few appeared uncertain about what to do. The facial expressions ran the gamut from happy smiles to grim determination.

Then the patients arrived.

The students volunteering at the Asian-American Dental Society's Free Sealant and Prophy Day quickly became calm and confident. As the students sprang into action it was easy to envision their future as practicing dentists. They held the hands of nervous children. They made jokes to coax giggles. They even talked to hand-puppets to calm the nervous "tummies" of their young patients.

This event, held in the pediatric dentistry clinic, is organized, promoted and staffed each year by student volunteers active in the ADS. Students recruit patients, schedule appointments, set up the clinic, work with staff at the dental school to ready the building and communicate with the ADS alumni who return year after year to oversee the care provided by the students.

The sealant day is in its 12th year of existence and became a biannual event in 2000. According to Dr. Loulou Moore '93, associate professor of restorative sciences and ADS faculty adviser/sponsor, it continues to grow in popularity with the students and patients each year.

"Second-year dental students Kelly Martinez and Jennifer Lee, the ADS community service co-chairs, helped organize the spring event," says Moore. "They did a fantastic job recruiting the dental and dental hygiene student volunteers to provide much-needed care to hundreds of young patients.

"I continue to be impressed with our ADS alumni who support this event either with their time or financial contributions," continues Moore. "Most of them were part of our previous sealant events while they were still students. We also receive generous support from dental companies, who have provided all sealant materials and supplies for the last 12 years. Without their support this event just would not happen."

Moore adds that the event also is very popular with the predental organizations at local universities. However, due to the great number of HSC-BCD student volunteers and space availability, only a small number of the undergraduate students are able to participate each year.

ADS02During the Free Sealant and Prophy Day, children ages 6-14 receive a free dental screening for cavities, a free cleaning and sealants. All work performed by the dental and dental hygiene students is overseen and checked by the faculty, pediatric dentistry residents and alumni.

"For many children, this is the first time they have seen a dentist in a while," explains Lee. "We want this experience to be positive and fun for them." 

It definitely was a fun experience for all involved. While waiting for their appointments in the clinic, children enjoyed a hula hoop lesson courtesy of Penny Rowbotham, clinic coordinator in the Imaging Center. Upon completion of their clinic visits, children received goody bags filled with stickers and assorted toys, mouthwash, a toothbrush and their colored eyewear protection. Refreshments for the volunteers were provided by friends of the students and staff at the college.

"It is wonderful to see the children leave here with smiles on their faces," says Moore. "It is even more gratifying to see the smiles on the faces of our students when they know they have done a good job."

Click here to see & download: A slideshow of more pictures from the event.