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Dental-care volunteers brighten needy kids' smiles
By Shelly Godefrin
News Chief staff
Published: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 4:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 8:21 a.m.
WINTER HAVEN - Local dentists and hygienists volunteered their time Friday to "Give Kids a Smile."
Dental hygienists clean the teeth of under privileged children before they see one of several volunteer dentists to correct any dental problems the children may have on Friday at Dr. Ken Rogers dental practice in Winter Haven. Approximately twenty five local dentists and dental hygienists gathered at Dr. Rogers office to donate their time and skill to provide dental care for under privileged children through the Give Kids a Smile program. Friday January 30, 2009
Paul Crate / News Chief
Nine-year-old Esmeralda Lopez appears to be quite relaxed as Dr. Ken Rogers and dental assistant, Amber Hicks, take care of any dental problems she may have free of charge. Dr. Rogers specializes in dentistry for children and teenagers. Friday January 30, 2009
Blanca Perez, a registered dental hygienist from Dr. Mariela Lung's office, cleans nine-year-old Christina Morales' teeth on Friday at Dr. Ken Rogers' dental practice in Winter haven. Friday January 30, 2009
Held at Dr. Ken Rogers' office on First Street South in Winter Haven, 25 volunteers examined the teeth of underprivileged children and those from low-income families. It was part of the statewide "Give Kids a Smile" program, which provides free dental care to thousands of children in Florida.
Dr. Beverley Brown with the Polk County Health Department said this is the third year the event has been held.
"We provide care for the child and educate them and their parents," Brown said.
She said the health of children's teeth effects their overall health and growth.
The program is normally held only at the Traviss Career Center in Lakeland, but Friday's program was held at Rogers' office. Allison Stringer, a dental assistant for Rogers, said dentist donated his office to program use this year. She said Traviss Career Center has some areas for dental assistant training, but Rogers' office has more equipment.
"It's nice to have it at an actual facility," Stringer said.
Children had their teeth examined by hygienists and had X-rays taken of their teeth. Stringer said procedures were completed if necessary and possible. In other cases, families were referred to other area dental offices.
Brown said families have to fill out income forms to prove they're eligible for the program. The program also is open to families who have Medicaid insurance but don't have providers in their area, Brown said.
Two more "Give Kids a Smile" clinics will be held Feb. 13 as part of Children's Dental Health Month. From 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., parents can have their children's teeth examined at Traviss Career Center, 3225 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., exams will be held at the Polk County Health Department's dental clinic at 1805 Hobbs Road in Auburndale.
Parents can register the day of the program, but Brown said the waiting time will be shorter if parents register early.
For details and to register, call Brown at 863-519-7900, ext. 1072, or Susan Rexroat at 863-499-2700, ext. 286.