There are not many sights more enjoyable than a child’s smile. However, when that smile is burdened by tooth decay or gum pain, both day-to-day enjoyment and learning suffer. To combat dental disease which more negatively impacts youth from lower socio-economic backgrounds, Phoenix College partnered with the Arizona Dental Foundation (the charitable arm of the Arizona Dental Association) to make a difference for local youth. Since 2007, the Arizona Dental Foundation (ADF) has provided over $8 million in free dental care to vulnerable citizens throughout Arizona and over 20,000 children have received vital care.
On Friday, April 1st dozens of middle school students from Brophy High School area (Title 1 school children) arrived via bus at the Phoenix College Dental Clinic for a Give Kids a Smile Event.
Participants received free dental cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, and dental exams with X-rays courtesy of the Arizona Dental Foundation performed by Phoenix College dental hygiene and dental assisting students, under the careful direction of faculty and staff dentists. Senior dental hygiene students spent time with each young patient to gently clean their teeth and provide the clinical preventative services. Junior dental hygiene students assisted with all radiographs and provided oral hygiene education. Dental assisting students had the opportunity to collaborate with dentists and hygiene students in patient care and provide other support services to help the event run smoothly.
“This is a great opportunity for our dental hygiene students to gain valuable experience providing care for children since their typical patients here are adults. Additionally, our dental assisting student-externs rarely get to partner with the dental hygiene students and this provided a good opportunity for them to share their expertise with each other. They will all graduate and enter the workforce in just a few weeks, and we hope to impart on them that promoting health in the greater community is a critical role of being a healthcare provider. Hopefully today gave a little snippet of that.” - Rita Perry
Those children in need of more extensive dental care were referred to a free dental care clinic at Midwestern Dental School later this month through the ADF.
“We can identify kids that need elevated care today. The purpose of Give Kids a Smile is restorative care (fillings, extractions, etc.). The organization’s goal is to eliminate pain and infection reducing school absenteeism.” – Ginger Froncek, Executive Director ADF
Phoenix College alumnus, Dr. Greg Pafford, was instrumental in bringing back the Arizona Dental Foundation’s Give Kids a Smile Clinic to Phoenix College after an almost 10-year hiatus. As a young boy, Dr. Pafford watched his father (also a Phoenix College alumnus and dentist) bus in children from the Boys and Girls Club for dental care. He saw how important reaching out to underserved communities was for dental needs. He is also the co-founder of the Phoenix Boys & Girls Club’s Dental Dave Pratt Dental Clinic and served as Chair of the Give Kids A Smile events from 2003 to 2013. In 2011, Dr. Pafford was honored at the Phoenix College Alumni Association Hall of Fame.
Phoenix College dental faculty and the Arizona Dental Foundation both hope to continue offering the Give Kids a Smile Clinics at Phoenix College into the future.
“I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Phoenix College and it’s easy here because the dental faculty Rita [Perry] and Kerry [Darrow] are both great to work with. We hope to continue this relationship going forward” - Dr. Greg Pafford ‘80
Barry Wong, JD, director of the governor's Office of Equal Opportunity, on behalf of Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, presented the proclamation that April 1, 2022 was Give Kids A Smile Day in Arizona and commended the program for protecting the future health of our communities.