Two hundred children received free dental cleanings, fluoride treatment and dental sealants at Community Health of South Florida Inc.’s (CHI) Give Kids A Smile Day on February 1st. The event offered dental services to children ages 3 to 16-years-old in partnership with the American Dental Association Foundation. Christina Colley made sure to bring her 4-year-old son, Johnathan, to the West Perrine Health Center for his cleaning. As they were waiting she asked him about his hygiene routine.
“Yes, and how do we get in between our teeth?” asked the mom.
“We use our nails,” the toddler jokingly responded as the waiting room erupted in laughter.
“No we use floss,” she said, unable to contain her smile after his response.
Seven of CHI’s dental locations from the Keys and through Miami-Dade offered the free services on that day and all were packed with families eager to take advantage of the promotion.
Ibeli Cauribe, an unemployed mom, brought her 13-year-old daughter.
“These are very expensive services so it’s a great idea to have it for free,” said Cauribe. “It gives us an opportunity to have at least part of the work done.”
“CHI was founded on the premise that everyone should have access to high quality healthcare regardless of economic or insurance status,” said Brodes H. Hartley Jr., President and CEO of CHI. “We do these events to reach out to those in need and to show that CHI is here for them year-round. We offer a sliding fee scale for the uninsured so that even when we are not having Give Kids a Smile Day, everyone has the ability to care for their oral health.”
Back at the Doris Ison Health Center, Dr. Sheri Watson-Hamilton, DMD was busy working with her team to care for the nearly 40 children who showed up for dental care at that site. Dr. Watson-Hamilton is the Director of Dental Services and outfitted her team in brightly colored shirts with the Give Kids a Smile Day logo.
“Many of us worked through lunch and into the evening that day but we did so happily,” said Dr. Watson-Hamilton. “It makes it all worthwhile to know that children who need dental care are receiving the services they need to stay healthy. A child who doesn’t have dental care can’t concentrate in school, can’t enjoy a meal, and suffers with his or her overall health.”
“It does make it easier on parents to get what they need done for their kids,” said Clarke.
Her girls also got to pose for a photo with Ratoncito Perez, a giant cartoonish rat sponsored by Delta Dental also known as the Spanish counterpart to the tooth fairy.
Five-year-old Eden announced, “I think they’re going to make our teeth nice and shiny and clean!”
True to the day’s name, every child left with a smile on their face, even those who were initially a bit apprehensive about visiting the dentist.