Sixty-two second-graders from Rollins Elementary received dental treatments at the Medical College of Georgia on Friday. For many it was the first time seeing a dentist.
"They told me I need to keep my mouth clean every day and keep on brushing them," said Madsen Jones.
After Madsen's dental cleaning, she hurried back to her teachers and friends to show them her sparkling smile. She said she especially liked how her teeth felt after being polished.
Madsen and the other Rollins pupils were part of the nationwide Give Kids a Smile program, which provides dental services for children from low-income families on the first Friday of February each year.
About a dozen dentists and hygienists volunteered as part of MCG's sixth annual event. The children received treatments ranging from cleanings and sealants to tooth extractions and simple fillings, but first they were taught the importance of taking care of their teeth.
"They're forming their ideas of what it's going to be like to go to the dentist for the rest of their lives," said Laura Farmer, a senior dental hygiene student at MCG. "One of the most important things, along with reinforcing healthy habits, is making sure that those kids have a good time at the dentist."
Schools are selected for the program based on recommendations from the public health department. The school must be Title I and is usually one the health department won't be able to visit that year. Before the visit, the children were screened at school to diagnose the types of treatment they would be receiving.
Charkavrous Mack, a Rollins Elementary pupil, had his teeth cleaned but said he was a little nervous at first: "I was so scared when they put the paint on my teeth. I thought they were giving me a shot."
Later, he said there was nothing to be scared of, and he couldn't wait to see his shiny teeth.
"They may be a little nervous on the walk to the clinic," said Dr. Marie Collins, the chairwoman of dental hygiene, "but on the way back they're smiling."