“What do you think a dentist uses to record the shape of your teeth in case they need to be replaced?”
Dr. Jason Griggs, associate dean for research and chair of biomedical materials science at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, holds a dispenser full of polyvinyl siloxane and a captive audience of fifth-graders from Power APAC School.
“They start with this neat material that is a liquid when it goes in your mouth, but within a few minutes it turns rubbery and keeps the shape of your teeth,” Griggs said as he demonstrated by pressing a shiny new penny into the dental impression material.
The kids are entertained as they wait their turn in the dental chair for education, cleaning, fluoride treatment and sealants. It's Give Kids A Smile Day, and all hands are on deck-even the research scientists.
The school has hosted Give Kids A Smile for thirteen years. This year, the event closed out the inaugural Dental Mission Week. Normal operations were shut down for a full week to provide essential oral health care and oral health education, free of charge, to more than 900 patients from underserved communities.
On Friday, Feb. 10, third and fourth grade students from Jackson Public Schools District's Johnson and Walton Elementary Schools and fourth and fifth graders from Power APAC School received care during the morning hours. For the first time in the history of hosting GKAS, the program was expanded to provide care for children from the Stewpot Homeless Shelter's after-school program during the afternoon hours.
Nearly 400 students received education and treatment provided by students and faculty from the School of Dentistry and juniors and seniors from the dental hygiene program at the School of Health Related Professions.
Dr. William Duncan, professor and interim chair of pediatric dentistry, said that parents were notified of any decay or infection discovered visually during the exams and cleanings so that follow-up appointments could be made.
“I think the day went very well,” he said. “It was fun for the patients as well as for our students. They continue to learn about treating children, and I think we provided a good service. We were really pleased, and we will continue to host Give Kids A Smile on a yearly basis.