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Blinn Dental Hygiene students offer free dental services for children in need
Seventh Annual Give Kids a Smile event set for April 9 at Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Clinic

Blinn Dental Hygiene students offer free dental services for children in need
Seventh Annual Give Kids a Smile event set for April 9 at Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Clinic

Blinn College dental hygiene students are making smiles brighter in the Brazos Valley.

Students and dental professionals will volunteer their time and expertise Thursday, April 9, for the College’s seventh annual Give Kids a Smile program, an initiative of the American Dental Association that provides free dental services to local children without access to regular dental care.

Give Kids a Smile offers children in kindergarten through fifth grade free dental exams, X-rays, dental cleanings, sealants and oral health education and will take place from 5-8pm in the Dental Hygiene Clinic at the College’s Workforce Education Center, located at 301 Post Office St. in Bryan.

Parents and guardians can schedule appointments for their children beginning April 1 by calling (979) 209-7283. Spanish-speaking personnel can assist with scheduling and will be available the day of the event. Registration is limited and reserved for children who do not typically receive regular dental care.

Last year, 63 children received care at the event. Since 2009, Blinn’s Give Kids a Smile has provided 369 cleanings, 359 fluoride treatments, 372 X-rays, 976 sealants and 376 exams, totaling $106,727 in free dental care services.

“Studies show that if we can improve oral health, we can improve overall health,” says Dana Wood, dental hygiene instructor. “Give Kids a Smile is our way of giving back to the community by equipping children with the tools they need for a healthy future.”

The Brazos Valley Dental Society, Brazos Valley Dental Hygiene Society, Bryan Independent School District and local dentistry professionals have been instrumental in making the event a success. Several local dentists volunteer at the event and offer restorative treatments at no cost to the family.

“We are so appreciative of how the community comes together to make this happen,” Wood says. “When our students leave here, they can take the experience they gained through Give Kids a Smile and start a similar program in their community. We not only want to give them the tools to become top-notch hygienists, but to touch the lives of people everywhere through service.”

Give Kids a Smile program was cited last year as a program to emulate at a national health symposium in Washington, D.C.

“Other dental hygiene programs are astounded at the support we receive,” Wood says. “It’s a true collaborative effort that makes the event a success each year.”

Give Kids a Smile is part of Blinn’s Service Learning program, which combines community service with classroom instruction or student club activities, focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility to engage students. Service Learning involves students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic or professional skills and commitment to their community. Blinn students have documented more than 456,000 hours of Service Learning and community service hours, valued at almost $9.1 million by the Points of Light Foundation.

Blinn’s Division of Health Sciences, based at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, offers associate degree nursing, dental hygiene, emergency medical services, physical therapist assistant, radiologic technology, fire science, therapeutics manufacturing, veterinary technology and vocational nursing programs designed to train students for high-demand professions.