Amid the hustle and bustle of dentists, hygienists, kids and their parents on Friday at Chippewa Valley Technical College, one woman leaned over a young patient wearing a bright pink shirt and black snow boots.
“Oh, you like to cook? What do you like to make?” the dentist asked as she prepared a numbing agent for the girl’s mouth.
The dentist explained what she was doing as she spread the numbing agent along the girl’s gums. A hygienist offered up her glove-clad hand for the girl to hold while the dentist began administering painkillers with a needle.
The girl was one of about 100 kids to receive free dental care as part of the college’s Give Kids a Smile Day. The program is a partnership between the CVTC Dental Clinic and area dentists, who donated their time and skills free of charge. Children between ages 2 and 13 are eligible for the program, which takes place annually.
Prior to their dental care, patients received a free health assessment from the adjacent Prevea Health clinic.
“It really is a one stop for a lot of kids,” said Pam Entorf, CVTC’s dental program director.
“It’s a win-win for our students and the community,” she added. “Students get to see what it’s like to work in the real world, as well as give back to the community.”
The event, sponsored by the American Dental Association and the Wisconsin Dental Association, operates on a first- come, first-serve basis. Families call to make appointments in advance, and are then eligible for teeth cleanings, X-rays, exams, fluoride treatments, sealants, fillings and extractions.
Becky Geboy and her 10-year-old daughter, Katelyn, were returning to the clinic for their second time on Friday. When asked if she enjoys visits to the dentist, Katelyn smiled shyly and said, “Sometimes.”
“It’s free,” Geboy said, chuckling, of the draw to attend the clinic. “That’s the main thing. They’re also pretty good about taking (kids) through the health care side as well.”
Ashley Schickling and her three kids, ages 8, 6 and 3, were new to the event this year. Schickling’s family moved to Eau Claire from Minnesota late last year.
“Oh, yeah,” Schickling said when asked if she’ll be back next year. “I like it here.”
“They made it really easy for her,” she added while nodding toward her 3-year-old daughter, who submerged her small fist into a plastic bag and pulled out a new toothbrush.
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