Head Start: Local Groups Brighten Smiles

-- Back to the "Head Start" navigational category --

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Jim Newman Staff Writer


Seventeen-year-old Antwain Taylor, a junior at Timmonsville High School, was at the health science campus of Florence-Darlington Technical College on Friday to get his teeth looked at, as well as acquire a better appreciation of the world of dentistry that he might enter someday.

He was just one among many children out in force to benefit from the Fourth Annual Give Kids a Smile program, an effort coordinated between the college and the Florence County chapter of the South Carolina Dental Association to assist children in receiving preventative, as well as restorative, dental care they might not otherwise be getting.

And dentists, along with their many assistants, and students were assembled and ready to help those children display their best pearly whites.

Dr. Mike Miller, the Pee Dee coordinator for the program, said he hoped by the end of the day to have seen as many as 100 school children ranging in age from 6 to 17. Last year, the participation wasn’t quite as high as anticipated, he said, because bus breakdowns prevented some students from reaching the center to receive dental attention.

“We scheduled close to 100, and there will probably be some walk-ins, he said. “The more the merrier. That’s the purpose of us being here—to treat patients in need.”

It’s just one day of treatment, but Miller said he is hopeful that the education also provided will go a long way toward helping impress the need for strict oral hygiene.

“Sometimes that initial step of coming in for treatment is the catalyst,” he said. A major bright spot of the initiative is the fact that it goes beyond helping those without dental insurance or other coverage. It boils down simply to focusing on children in need. This less restrictive approach also means that the 6-to-17-year-old age range is not necessarily carved in stone, but rather a template to draw upon.

“If a 4 –year-old child comes in with a need, we’re not turning him away,” Miller said.

Susan Cochran, a dental instructor with Florence-Darlington Tech, said good oral hygiene is such a fundamental aspect of overall general health. It’s also pretty important to a positive mental outlook, as well.

“A smile gives everybody confidence,” she said. “It’s like with education – no kid left behind. We want to reach everyone.”

Miller said he was happy to participate in a program that clearly provides such a needed service to the community, one that can possibly pay back dividends later in the form of a healthy mouth to those currently benefiting from it.

“I’m happy to be a part of it,” he said. “It fulfills some needs in the area today. Hopefully, it will be a catalyst to get these children to see someone else.”

Back to the Press Archive

-- Back to the "Head Start" navigational category --