Alvin Jackson seems a little nervous sitting in the dentist’s chair in the College of Dental Medicine building at Georgia Regents University. But senior dental hygiene student Jackie Bascino gets him to put on protective goggles by telling him they are “really cool sunglasses” and then proceeds to clean the teeth of the 5-year-old kindergartner from Lamar-Milledge Elementary School.
“You have such pretty teeth,” Bascino tells him. “Are you going to take care of them and brush them every day?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Alvin said.
The 26 students being care for on Friday were part of 160 that were screened by the college and by East Central Health District Director Blake Collins.
“For some of the children this was the first visit with a dentist,” said Ana Thompson, program director for dental hygiene. “It’s going to be interesting.”
The screening and treatment was funded in part by a $70,000 grant from the American Dental Education Association. The program hopes to see 300 children through the grant, Thompson said.
“We would like to do more screenings in another school,” she said.
While Alvin was getting his teeth cleaned, in the next stall Raiona Hall, 5, was putting up a fight,
“You’re going to pull my teeth out,” she yelled as student Nicole Chapman moved in. “I’m going to cry.”
“If you cry, I’m going to cry,” Chapman said.
As they screened the students, they found at least five abscesses and some of the children were missing permanent teeth already, Thompson said. Part of the program included a coloring book about why it is important to brush and floss and a note went to the parents about the importance of helping children get good dental hygiene, Thompson said.
“We try to educate people about prevention,” she said.