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Smiles for every student

Julie Jenks, assistant professor of clinical dentistry, with Weemes elementary students who received a free book courtesy of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation (Photo/Keni Nooner)

Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC students and faculty produced dozens of joyous expressions during Give Kids a Smile Day on Feb. 1.

Nearly 100 children from kindergarten to fifth grade were given free oral health screenings, including 70 students who received prevention treatments.

The event, part of the nationwide American Dental Association initiative that annually kicks off Children’s Dental Health month, brought the Ostrow School’s Neighborhood Mobile Clinic vans to visit the children of Weemes Elementary School, one of the USC Family of Schools.

Oral health issues affect Californians every day. In fact, more than two-thirds of California’s youth suffer from poor oral health by the time they reach the third grade, and 7 percent of children miss school due to dental issues, according to the California Health Care Foundation.

The Neighborhood Mobile Clinic program, which seeks to provide continuous care, will return later in the spring to do sealant procedures, staying as long as it takes to see every child in need.

Many of the children in attendance earlier this month said they were pleased with the results. Mo-nyae, a third grader, exclaimed, “I have no cavities!”

Students who experienced significant tooth pain received a $100 voucher to go toward additional dental care.

After finishing their screenings, the children were given goodie bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste and toys — a smiley face ring, temporary tattoo and tooth-shaped bubbles. They were also given a free book from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, which donates books to clinics around the area.

The tooth fairy also visited, reminding the children to take care of their teeth and be ready for their big-kid teeth.

Third grader Jasmin Truillo, who got the chance to take a picture with the tooth fairy, said, “I’ve lost a tooth before so this is too cool!”

After getting her teeth screened, one young girl also happily exclaimed, “I didn’t like the dentist before, but now I love it!”

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Smiles for every student

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