‘Give Kids a Smile’ at CLC Provides Free Dental Care to Local Children


Each year, dental professionals across Minnesota participate in Give Kids a Smile event to provide free dental care to children. The Lake Central College Dental Assistance Program and some local dental professionals did their part in Brainerd on Friday.

During the event, local children can visit the dentist for free. Not only did this benefit the children in care, but the students in CLC’s Dental Assistance Program also gained some valuable experience.

“I think it’s a great experience for us because it’s like a real office space,” said Nola Blais, a student in CLC’s dental assisting program. “We've been working in about a two-hour timeframe, but now it's compressed to an hour, which is more like real life. It's also been a good experience because we've been working with a lot of adults, but not Children. So having all these kids come in is just, it's good for students who want to work in a pediatric office to see how that works.

This day provides a learning opportunity not only for students but also for children, teaching them the importance of proper oral hygiene.

Just knowing that your patient went out carefully makes us feel good, and then we learn that it can also help us feel better and teach young children how to care for their teeth,” explained dental assistant student Kaiden Holtz.

Give a Child a Smile has been going on for two decades, and it's always a special experience for those who provide free dental care.

“It was so cool to see these kids who obviously couldn’t go anywhere else,” added dental assistant student Sidney Suska. “Seeing them come in with brighter smiles and straightened teeth. We have a lot of volunteers today. We have dentists, we have hygienists, and of course we assist, just trying to get these kids to have bright smiles and keep their gums perfect.

The goal on Friday was to make the dental experience as comfortable as possible for these kids and show them that the dentist’s office doesn’t have to be scary.

“Our goal is always to make it a fun environment and an enjoyable experience so that they want to come back to the dentist and continue to do so in the future,” said Katie Thalberg, director of the Dental Assisting Program.

Last Friday, CLC provided free dental care to 25 children. Over the past 20 years, Minnesota dentists have provided free care to more than 84,000 children through Give Kids Smiles.



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