Stuffed animals – each with a pair of shiny false teeth – accompanied the children as dental students at the University of Alaska Anchorage performed cleanings, x-rays and exams. “PawPatrol”, “Frozen” and PokÃ©mon decals decorated the clear dividers between each exam room, and songs from “The Little Mermaid” sounded overhead.
The UAA Children’s Day Dental Clinic, hosted by the School of Allied Health’s Dental Hygiene Program, gave 11 UAA dental students the opportunity to provide free services to young people from Anchorage.
The event took place on Friday and provided dental services to children up to 18 years old.
“When I grow up I want to be a dentist like you!” Leilani Madrid, 6, told dental program faculty member Dr Evelyn Haley.
While waiting for her teeth to be cleaned, Leilani used a small dental inspection mirror to investigate the pair of false teeth installed in the clinic’s stuffed animal fish that she named Tiggy.
âI did such a good job with my photos,â Leilani said of her x-rays. “I didn’t need the help of my mother and my little brother.”
The event gives students the chance to work on degree requirements while gaining experience in a clinical setting. It also helps educate the public and provide a positive experience for children, said Carri Shamburger, dental hygiene program director.
Four-year-old Lia Barela was reluctant to leave after her appointment. Wearing a pink bracelet that dental program student Ronie Marc Salvador chose for her from a toy box in the waiting room and holding a small toy in the shape of a tooth, Lia begged to stay for her to stay. can spend time with his friends.
Junior Marina Pack said it was after “a lot of soul searching” that she found her place in the UAA’s dental hygiene program.
âI really wanted to help people,â she said. “This is where I landed and I’m so sure it’s good for me.”
Being a part of Friday’s event was the icing on the cake.
âThere is so much happiness,â she said. Her hair was neatly tucked behind a handmade headwear decorated with bright red apples. âIt’s really great to see that and to have this experience.
Senior Shayna McGinty ââ who wore fairy wings and a white tutu ââ wore her tooth fairy wand as she interacted with the children during the educational portion of the event. One young girl even lowered her mask to show McGinty her missing tooth.
âIt melted my heart,â she said.
Shamburger said the Children’s Day dental clinic will be held again next year at the same time of year. Low cost dental appointments with UAA students are also available to the public from September through April. For more information, visit the School of Allied Health website.