San Juan College will host free dental clinic
FARMINGTON — San Juan College will host its 14th annual "Give Kids a Smile" day on Friday, providing a free youth dental clinic for San Juan County children.
The college's Dental Hygiene Program and volunteers will offer free dental care to economically disadvantaged children ages 5 to 12, according to Dr. Julius Manz, director of the Dental Hygiene Program.
The event is sponsored nationally by the American Dental Association and locally by the Northwest District Dental Society.
Nicole Catral, senior manager of the children's oral health programs for the ADA Foundation, said the mission of the program is to offer free treatment to children who are unable to obtain dental care.
In the last 14 years, the program has helped about 5.5 million children nationwide receive dental care, she said.
Catral hopes children who attend the events will find a "dental home" that can provide them dental care regularly.
As part of the program, dentists volunteer to offer oral examinations and dental treatments, and dental hygiene students perform X-rays, teeth cleaning and fluoride treatments.
Dental hygiene students will also educate parents and children on cavity prevention. Many children who participate in the event are treated for cavities, Manz said.
The program also gives dental hygiene students who are set to graduate this semester experience working with children.
Senior year coordinator Betty Onik said students don't typically see children in the college's dental clinic due to its hours of operation.
"They can have an opportunity to see how to treat young children and interact with them," Onik said.
The event is a community effort that includes organizations like San Juan United Way, the Farmington Municipal School District and the Farmington Boys & Girls Club. United Way helps schedule appointments for patients. Farmington schools and the Boys & Girls Club screen and refer patients.
Appointments are required for the event. They can be made by contacting San Juan United Way at 505-326-1195. No appointments will be made at the clinic, and no walk-in patients will be accepted.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.
If you go
What: San Juan College Dental Hygiene Program's "Give Kids a Smile" Day dental clinic
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday
Where: Dental Hygiene Program clinic inside the Health and Human Performance Center at San Juan College's main campus, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington
More info: To make an appointment, contact San Juan United Way at 505-326-1195. For more information, contact the San Juan College Dental Hygiene Program at 505-566-3126.