Give Kids a Smile 2009

Feb. 1, 2013
Dental Health Science students volunteer to 'Give Kids a Smile' through free dental care.

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Next week, I have the, ahem, joy of taking my 3-year-old on his first visit to the dentist.

Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with the dentist. I love the idea of healthy teeth, of preventing cavities, tooth decay and dentures, and of avoiding the uniquely exquisite pain that is a toothache.

But, I hate the process of keeping them healthy — not the brushing and flossing, but the jaw-stretching, the gum poking and, of course, the goosebump-inducing scraping noise that cannot be drowned out by headphones because it is inside your head.

But I’m a mom, so none of that matters right now. Already, “food germs” are part of the daily vocabulary at my house. As in, “Those food germs are trying to make your teeth sick, but this superhero toothbrush will chase them all away!” Now, we’re hyping the “tooth doctor.” And just as all visible hesitation to squish spiders, pick up worms or pet snakes must be vanquished in front of my son, so too must the slightest hint of dental phobia.

I can do it, because I know how important routine checkups and cleanings are for my son’s long-term health. And, I know how lucky we are to have affordable access to dental care for him.

This weekend, some other kids in the Hillsboro area are getting lucky too — toothwise. For the fifth consecutive year, the Pacific University School of Dental Health Science is partnering with members of the Washington County Dental Society to provide low-income children with complimentary dental care through Give Kids a Smile.

On Saturday, between 100 and 125 pre-selected children in the greater Hillsboro will receive oral hygiene instruction, routine screenings, teeth cleanings and fluoride treatments, and even fillings from Pacific’s dental hygiene students and professional dentists and hygienists. 

The Give Kids A Smile event is even bigger than past years thanks to an increase in the number of volunteers and donations.

Pacific and the Washington County Dental Society are among about 1,700 organizations nationwide to participate in the American Dental Association’s national Give Kids a Smile program, which serves about 450,000 children each year.

That’s a lot of food germs getting nixed by volunteers — and I think that deserves all the hype it can get.