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Event brightens smiles, spirits
Dentists give free care to kids in need
Dentist WEB
Dentist Melissa Durand, left, is assisted by Brandy Shoemake as they work on a patient Friday during Give Kids a Smile Day. - photo by Jim Dean

Want to help?

Local dental offices interested in volunteering for next year’s Give Kids a Smile Day should contact Melissa Corliss with United Way of Forsyth County at (770) 781-4110.

More than 100 students in the Forsyth County school system received free dental care Friday.

The system, United Way of Forsyth County and several area dentists set aside one day each year to take part in “Give Kids a Smile Day,” a nationwide event that encourages dentists to provide free services to children in need.

The students come from families who don’t have insurance or for other reasons aren’t able to afford proper dental care.

Among the five participating dental offices this year were Cumming Dental Care and Forsyth Dental Partners.

This was the third year both offices took part.

Melissa Durand, a dentist with Forsyth Dental Partners, said she and her colleagues make the event a priority.

“It just feels good in your heart,” she said. “For some kids, this is the only time they get to go to the dentist.”

Dentist Clay Skognes, with Cumming Dental Care, echoed Durand’s sentiments.

“It’s a good thing to give back and serve the kids,” he said.

Amy Chapple, a counselor at Sharon Elementary School, said the day means a lot to the students.

“This is so huge for many of them,” she said. “They actually love coming.”

Ashley Prichett, a nurse at Sawnee Elementary, said lack of proper dental care can have an impact on students in the classroom.

“If you’re not feeling well because you have tooth pain, you don’t learn well,” she said. “Problems with teeth can also cause other problems.”

While at the dental offices, students received standard cleanings, X-rays, and treatment for problems such as cavities.

Many also received preventative measures such as fluoride treatments and sealants.

The many dental hygienists who took part in the day also provided education.

“We’ve had lots of talks about flossing and how to brush their teeth properly. It’s hard to get those teeth all the way in the back,” said Amanda Davis, a hygienist at Cumming Dental Care.

The students also took home “goodie bags” from the offices, including dental floss, toothpaste and brushes.

Some who need more in-depth care will come back for free follow-up appointments.

The students and the school staff who visited the dentists were appreciative of the time.

“It’s really great that the dentists are willing to do this,” said Courtney Emmett, a counseling intern at Brookwood Elementary. “They’ve been so hospitable and accommodating.”