Skip to main content

Blinn's Give Kids a Smile provides almost $20,000 in free dental care for children

The annual event is coordinated, planned, and executed by Blinn College dental hygiene students

April 24, 2023

With a bright smile and braided pigtails, Sierra Bowen, 23, enthusiastically praises her young patient’s tooth-brushing technique. One of three co-chairs overseeing the Blinn College District’s 13th Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) event that provides free dental services to children, Bowen knows firsthand the impact she can have.

“I have a lot of family members who need this type of dental care and can’t always afford it,” Bowen said. “This event is very personal for me and very rewarding.”

This commitment to care is evident on the face of each student, employee, and volunteer who helped transform Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Clinic into an underwater wonderland complete with tissue paper jellyfish and entertainers dressed as the Little Mermaid and Moana.

“Our job is to motivate, educate, and make the kids feel good,” Bowen said. “This may be some kids’ first experience with dental care and it’s amazing to see them lighten up and talk to us like friends rather than someone who wants to clean their teeth.”

By the end of the evening, this year’s event provided almost $20,000 in donated care to 82 children. In addition to dental treatments, children enjoyed crafts, door prizes, and each left with a goody bag filled with tips and tools to promote proper oral health care. To date, Blinn’s participation in GKAS has totaled approximately $260,000 in donated care.

A national initiative of the American Dental Association, GKAS supplies oral health care to local children who lack access to regular dental care. The event is coordinated, planned, and executed by Blinn dental hygiene students as a component of their community dentistry course.

“We want to instill in our students a passion for community service and giving back,” dental hygiene instructor Dana Wood said. “The beauty of this program is that students can take this experience and when they graduate, maybe start another GKAS program wherever their new community is.”

Blinn has the longest running GKAS program among U.S. community colleges, so it’s no surprise Dental Hygiene Program graduate and former GKAS coordinator Lauren Denham exemplifies this exact goal. After graduating from Blinn in 2022, she helped establish a free dental clinic in the Montgomery area and recruited the dentist at her current practice to volunteer for this year’s GKAS.

“Because I coordinated Give Kids a Smile last year, I was able to do something very similar with my work and host a free dental day that provided around $20,000 in donated care,” Denham said. “It was great to be able to give back by using the skills I learned and applying them to my profession.”

As the day’s appointments wrap up and Bowen surveys a hallway strewn with stickers and dental floss, she reflects on her memories from the hectic, but inspiring day.

“My favorite part was my one-on-one interactions with the kids, getting to know them, and teaching them proper oral care,” said Bowen. “It’s overwhelming to make a lifelong impact on someone that you may never see again, and I feel so grateful for this opportunity.”

Will she be back for more?

“One hundred percent!” she said. “It’s so rewarding to be here and see the kids and what a difference you can make.”

In addition to GKAS, the Blinn Dental Hygiene Program offers discounted cleanings and screenings for the general public. These sessions are $20 per person and include dental cleanings, x-rays, examinations, fluoride, oral cancer inspections, and sealants.

For more information about a clinic visit, call 979-209-7283 or visit

To learn more about Blinn’s Dental Hygiene Program, visit

Enjoy this article? Share it with one click!






Get Connected