At least 130 children received free dental care Friday at five local clinics as part of Give Kids a Smile.
The children were uninsured and under-insured elementary and middle-school students from Council Bluffs and Lewis Central community schools and those with barriers to dental services, said Linda Meyers, registered dental hygienist for FAMILY Inc. and I-Smile coordinator for Pottawattamie and Mills counties. There were also individual students who signed up through Centro Latino, local churches and other organizations.
“Both school districts provided transportation to and from, which is a real plus,” she said.
Omni Dental Centre in Council Bluffs & Carter Lake, New Image Dentistry in Council Bluffs, Broadway Family Dentistry and Stuntz Family Dentistry participated in the seventh-annual event, Meyers said. They provided preventive dental care, as well as needed dental treatment in many cases.
“There were a lot of teeth filled – what they had time for,” she said. “We actually had one little girl that had a root canal, and she was uninsured.”
Give Kids a Smile is a chance for dentists to give back, Meyers said.
“The dentists and all the staff donate their time and supplies,” she said.
Iowa Western Community College students educate the children about good dental hygiene, Meyers said.
“We have grown each year that we have done this event, and it is a great feeling to give back and fulfill a great need in the community,” said Terri Lenihan, administrator at Omni Dental.
“All the office staff can’t believe how well behaved the children are,” Meyers said. “They’ll send them with a little bit of schoolwork to do.”
The students keep busy until it is their turn to receive care, she said, “and they’re all really thankful. It’s rewarding.”
Dentists send them out with the toothbrushes from Delta Dental and some toothpaste and/or floss.
Dental staff received I-Smile T-shirts, and the Tooth Fairy and Mr. Molar made guest appearances, Meyers said.