The focus is on treating under-served children in community

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FARMINGTON — Area dentists and orthodontists, along with San Juan College dental hygiene instructors and professors, will participate in a national event to provide dental care to those in need.

The Dental Hygiene Program at San Juan College will host the national Give Kids a Smile Day clinic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in dental hygiene classrooms in the Health and Human Performance Center on the main San Juan College campus in Farmington.

The program provides free dental care to children from 5 to 12-years-old from around San Juan County, according to Director and Professor of Dental Hygiene Julius Manz.

The focus is on economically underserved children, but the program will not turn away any child who is registered for the event.

"What we do is we provide as much dental care to the child as possible during that particular time that day," Manz said.

The program provided services for 50 children last year, providing them with about $40,000 in dental care services. It had provided upwards of $50,000 in service in past years.

Children will receive a free teeth cleaning, fluoride treatment, x-rays if necessary along with work for any fillings or extractions, according to Manz.

A couple of orthodontists will be on hand to provide services.

The program is sponsored on a local level by the Northwest District Dental Society and nationally by the American Dental Association.

The program provides San Juan College's dental hygiene students with an opportunity to perform fluoride treatments, cleanings and x-rays, along with interacting with local dentists for a future job opportunity, Manz said.

About 15 to 16 local dentist offices volunteer to perform services, and other local offices donate funds to help cover expenses, according to Assistant Professor Elizabeth Onik.

Onik's favorite part is helping the patients who might be initially scared of treatment to become good dental patients.

"Some parents go to tears when they realize we are going to treat their children and take care of their problems," Onik said.

Appointments are required for the program and they can be made through the San Juan United Way.

Those interested can call the San Juan United Way at 505-326-4357. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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