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Feb. 21, 2003

ULM Dental Hygiene Students Help Kids

The dental hygiene department at the University of Louisiana at Monroe participated in the "Give Kids A Smile" program on Friday. Thirty-five children from the local Boys and Girls Club and the YWCA battered women's shelter received -for free- services offered by ULM dental hygiene students.

"Give Kids a Smile" is an annual, one-day event during National Children's Dental Health Month in which state and local dentist societies, as well as individual dentists, organize activities to provide free education, screening and treatment services to children from low income families and disabled children. The program is also meant to raise awareness of the number of children in 21st Century America who suffer needlessly from untreated dental disease.

Dental hygiene students provided teeth cleaning services to the children and instructed them how to care for their teeth. Dentists were also on hand to diagnose children with problems that were noted by the students. The children were assigned a dentist who they may visit free of charge in their private practices for any needed treatment.

Dr. Les Tarver, President of the Louisiana Dental Association, was one of the dentists on hand Friday.

"Not only is this a great opportunity for the children, but this is also a great opportunity to show what an asset the dental hygiene program at ULM is to the community " said Tarver.

"There is a need to teach children early on how to floss and brush," said Tessa Curry, a senior in the ULM dental hygiene program. "It also allows us as students to experience what it will be like when we begin working in the real world instead of in the school setting," she said.

Dr. Ricky Caples, the public relations director for the Louisiana Dentist Association and local orthodontist, said this was the first year for this in our area and believed the event went very well.

"This is the only facility in the area where this type of thing can be done," said Caples, "and ULM is very gracious to allow their facilities to be used."

Local dentists at the event who volunteered their services and who will treat these children free of charge were: Dr. Les Tarver, Dr. Eric Lavespere, Dr. John Shepard, Dr. Wayne Cranford, Dr. King Scott, Dr. Robert Huffstutter, Dr. Ricky Caples, Dr. Lance Donald and Dr. Kristi Davis.

The dental hygiene clinic at ULM is open to the public Monday through Thursday.

For more information contact the dental hygiene department at 342- 1621.

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