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Groups bring dental care to Forsyth County kids in need

CUMMING — Smiles brightened Friday throughout Forsyth County when a nonprofit and local businesses banded together to provide free dental care for children whose parents can’t afford insurance.

United Way of Forsyth County held Give Kids a Smile Day for the seventh year worked with the school system and dentist offices to perform the appointments for free.

The event is a localization of a national program that takes place annually on the first Friday in February.

“We have 55 children this year who do not have dental insurance and cannot afford to go to the dentist who got free services today,” said Connie Trent, health services facilitator for Forsyth County Schools.

Trent said school nurses identify the students who need dental work done and talk to their parents to determine whether the need is due to a lack of insurance or way to pay for the procedures.

“We’re lucky to be in a community where the dental practices will step up and take the time to do this to help children in need,” said Melissa Corliss, director of community impact for United Way. “We have been really lucky to have dentists some back year after year and support the program.”

One of those dentists is Melissa Durand at Lanier Dental Partners in Cumming. The business has participated in the event since its inception.

“Oral health for everyone in the community is very important,” Durand said.

She said a lot of the kids who participated in the program have never been to a dentist before.

They received root canals, cleanings, fillings, extractions, X-rays, sealants and “whatever the children need.”

“We need to give back in any way,” she said. “We have gone to school for our training in oral health, so that’s how we can give back. We want people to want to smile.”