April 13, 2011
Created in coordination with the American Dental Association, Blinn’s Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) program enjoyed a third record year providing free dental hygiene services to children of the Brazos Valley. Led by instructor Dana Wood and coordinated by students Dixie Flores and Erin Muesse, the event in early April brought dental care to 83 area children, ages 14 months to 15 years. Four dentists participated along with 20 volunteers, who helped match children with “adoptive dentists.”
Blinn’s Community Dental Health students organized the community service project and teamed with volunteers from Brazos Valley Dental Society, Brazos Valley Dental Hygiene Society, the Blinn Spanish club along with Blinn students and faculty. To date, the project has provided almost $25,000 of preventive dental care to underserved families in the Brazos Valley. The event marks a collaboration of caring community groups and individuals to help eliminate the disparities in care in the area.
GKAS night provides, cleanings, X-rays, fluoride treatments, examinations, oral hygiene instruction and sealants for children. The children are then seen by volunteering dentists who adopt them to provide their restorative treatment free of charge to the families. Dental hygiene students raised the money and collected donations for supplies with support from a fundraiser at Fuddruckers restaurant in early March.
"Our area has many families who are in need of care," Wood said. "Given our current economy, many kids go without dental care in lieu of groceries, clothing and transportation costs for families. Our goal is to provide these parents with an avenue to obtain dental care for their kids at no cost to them. We have served nearly 200 children with critical preventative dental care in just two years."
Wood credits the support of community dentists—especially Dr. Ketan Sukkawala—hygienists, Blinn administrators and officials from Bryan Independent School District for the event’s ongoing success.