Monday, September 20, 2010

Dental Students Volunteer to Help Elementary Students

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado Public Relations Manager

School is back in session and students are back in the classroom. Unfortunately, some students are suffering from dental problems and finding it difficult to concentrate. To help alleviate the pain and keep kids attentive during class, the Rio Salado College School of Dental Hygiene recently hosted Give Kids a Smile at the college’s clinic in Phoenix.

“We partnered with an elementary school in our community and we treating students between the age 5 to age 12,” said Kathy LaVoy, an adjunct faculty at Rio Salado College. “We are providing X-rays, a doctor’s examine, our dental hygiene students are providing cleanings, and working with the children on education. They are learning how to take better care of their teeth, how to keep their teeth healthy, which will keep them healthy.”

During the event, Rio Salado’s dental hygiene staff and students treated more than 60 students from Tertulia Elementary School in Phoenix. Along with the cleanings and proper brushing and flossing lessons, the Tertulia students received a gift pack, which included a new tooth brush, toothpaste, floss and other hygiene items.

This is the second year Rio Salado’s School of Dental Hygiene volunteered to host the Give Kids a Smile event at its clinic.

“Students lose a lot of [classroom] time because of problems with their teeth,” said LaVoy. “We want to educate the students on how to take care of their teeth and prevent that from happening. We want healthy happy students in the classroom learning. We don’t want these little guys out because they have a toothache or a problem.”

Additionally, Rio Salado College’s staff members are encouraged to volunteer and students in the dental hygiene program also are provided with opportunities to give back to the community.

“My students are required to give at least 10 hours and his is one of the ways they give part of their 10 hours,” said LaVoy.

Among the dental hygiene students volunteering was Lindsay Sinica of Tempe.

“We are done with our semester, and [the instructors] asked us to volunteer to brush kids’ teeth and give them a cleaning,” said Sinica. “Some kids have never been to the dentist. If we get them at a younger age, they can stop cavities from happening and get good brushing habits early.”

According to LaVoy, the elementary students are getting more than just a cleaning at the event. If they have a cavity or other dental problem, they will be referred to a dentist.

“We don’t just clean their teeth and tell them how to brush them and leave them with the issues,” said LaVoy. “We provide avenues to refer them.”

At the end of the event, the Tertulia children weren’t the only students smiling when they left the clinic. The dental hygiene students said they were having just as much fun.

“I hope we can do it again soon,” said Sinica. “I wish we could do it all the time.”

To learn more about Rio Salado College’s School of Dental Hygiene, visit