Dental Science students help local elementary students receive free dental exams in annual event

The American Dental Association program and event, Give Kids A Smile, was true to its name. Over 50 students from Middletown’s Rosa Parks Elementary School traveled to the Butler Tech Bioscience Center (West Chester Campus) on February 2 for free dental exams and lessons on dental hygiene. Butler Tech Dental Science students worked alongside professional volunteers from the Keely Dental Society of Butler County.

“This event is a lot of fun,” says an excited Octavea Wilson in Dental Science. “It’s a lot to learn and take on, but it’s also a great opportunity for us to learn.”

Across the room, students and volunteers were visibly excited while preparing the exam stations for their young patients. Each classroom station is built to the standards of a professional office and ready for dental students to assist their experienced counterparts.

Rosa Parks Elementary students learning proper technique to brush his teeth.

Rosa Parks Elementary students learning proper technique to brush his teeth.

“We have the classrooms set up so that students feel like they’re at an actual dentist office,” said Brianna Foster, who is on her second year participating in Give Kids A Smile. “In one classroom we have them waiting while they watch a video about dental health. Then I’ll bring them over, check them in, make sure they’re okay and not nervous, and then bring them to the operatory that they’re scheduled to be in.”

With the event being a resource connecting the community to health services, it also was an educational opportunity for Dental Science students.

“It’ll be really exciting to shadow with the assistants because I really want to help the kids feel more confident in their smile and excited to visit the dentist. So to be a part of this experience as my first time assisting in sterilization, which is cleaning the tools, is awesome,” says senior Taylor Dunn, who shadows at her childhood dentist office.

“We have all the different aspects of a dental team here helping the students better understand what those team members do during an exam which is great for their shadowing experience” explains Virginia Dosenbeck, Butler Tech Dental Science instructor.

Dental Science students assisting Dr. Kennedy with dental exam.

Students were stepping into many of the roles performed by technicians, such as charting, taking X-rays and dental impressions. Many seniors are already working in dental offices performing these duties, but the juniors were looking forward to this being their first time working with real patients.

“I was able to assist for the first time with X-rays. My role was positioning bite wings in the patient’s mouth so that when they take the X-ray, they’ll be able to see a full picture of the mouth,” says Olivia Thamann, Dental Science junior.

Accessing regular dental services requires resources that aren’t always available in some communities, which is why Brain Cannon, Principal of Rosa Parks Elementary, was thrilled his students were invited to attend. “Dental health is very important in our community. This is such a great opportunity for them to learn about dental hygiene and why it’s important. Some of them even explained they had never even been to the dentist to get some of these things done this year. So being able to expose them to treatments like this and show them there’s nothing to fear thanks to staff and students is great.”