College students help kids smiles shine brighter through national program

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Dental hygiene students at the University of Maine Augusta Bangor Campus were helping kids' smiles shine a bit brighter Friday.

It's part of a national program.

Dr. Gaston To'olo of Katahdin Pediatric Dentistry says, "Give Kids a Smile is an ADA process program that is once a year, and it gives an advantage to those that do not have access to care."

Dayna Woods, a student says, "There's an unmet population in Maine that needs dental care, and Give Kids a Smile Day allows us to help meet some of that need."

In the past 16 years, the annual program has helped roughly five and a half million underserved children receive free oral health care.

Shelby Cyr, a student says, "It's very fun introducing them to the dentistry and making sure that they're not afraid of it and making it something fun and exciting for them so when their visits come up, it's not something that they're scared of."

The state-of-the-art facility in Bangor not only served the kids but the students as well.

Woods says, "This is a nice clinic. It is a top of the line facility. We have new technologies, digital radiology, and lots of opportunities for us to learn."

Professional clinicians from the community volunteer to help mentor the students throughout the clinic.

Cyr says, "They have a lot of insight and knowledge and things that they can pass down to the students here and give us information to make sure that the kids are having a good time and that it's safe and that they are leaving here with a smile on their face."

Woods says, "It's very satisfying being able to see some of these children knowing that we're able to help them and that we can give them a good experience, and hopefully, they'll be seeing dentists in the future."