Business

Giving kids a smile: North Bend dentist, volunteers help needy kids stay healthy

Dentist Kelly Garwood and assistant Tara Crandall help patient Abigail during her Give Kids a Smile visit in March. Needy children receive free dental care and advice. Giving kids a smile: North Bend dental offices provide free care for needy youth.  - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Dentist Kelly Garwood and assistant Tara Crandall help patient Abigail during her Give Kids a Smile visit in March. Needy children receive free dental care and advice. Giving kids a smile: North Bend dental offices provide free care for needy youth.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Some children might recoil from a visit to the dentist, but 11-year-old Abigail’s shiny white teeth smile as Kelly Garwood treats her cavities with a friendly chair-side manner.

“Poor Abigail is our first victim, mwuh-hah-haw!” the North Bend dentist kidded. “We only take the good kids, right?”

Last month, Garwood’s office joined dentists nationwide in the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile program, providing free care to children of needy families.

The children, who ranged in age from Kindergarteners to age 20, also learn about oral hygiene and receive brushes and supplies during the visits.

The dentist and staff provided check-ups, cleanings and fillings on their days off. A number of volunteers, including staff from other offices such as Dr. Browning’s, and non-dental workers also took part. Some children will be sent to specialists, such as an oral surgeon for wisdom teeth removal.

Abigail has “beautiful teeth,” Garwood said. But she has six cavities. Without Give Kids A Smile, she might not be able to get them treated.

“It’s pretty important,” Garwood said of the program. “Sometimes, people just can’t seem to afford dental care.” But children who don’t have access to a dentist could lose teeth.

“If you lose teeth at a young age, it compromises your health for the rest of your life,” Garwood said.

According to the American Dental Association, more than 12,000 dentists and 33,000 volunteers have taken part in Give Kids a Smile in 2011 alone, helping nearly 400,000 children.

Garwood dental assistant Tara Crandall said she was happy to donate her free time for the day to the youths.

“It seems like they really appreciate it,” she said.

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