Two students from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona pose with blue and yellow balloons.

Midwestern University Dental Institute Hosts Free Dental Day for Kids

February 16, 2024

The Midwestern University Dental Institute held a free dental day in Glendale, AZ on January 20 for kids as part of the nationwide community service event, Give Kids A Smile. About 132 children between the ages of six and fourteen attended and received services such as cleanings, exams, fillings, extractions, root canals, and dental sealants.

David Dodell, D.M.D., Director of Clinical Systems at the Dental Institute said, “The purpose of the event is to provide children in need as much dental care as we can. We aim to address urgent needs first, and if none exist, we provide preventative services such as dental cleanings. Families bring their children to the event, and we do what we can to help them.”

Dental student Maria Peters (CDMA ’25) shared her experience: “I signed up to be a student provider, and I got to provide treatment to a child performing an exam, X-rays, and a filling. I also helped with turning over treatment rooms and bringing instruments and supplies to other student doctors.” Maria also spoke about working with her classmates, noting “we provided primary care to all kids including cleanings, x-rays, dental extractions, fillings, and stainless steel crowns. In addition, we educated parents and kids about diet and oral hygiene recommendations.” She added, “this event is very enriching for my professional career, with the opportunity to get more hands on when it comes to treating children and expanding our abilities to treatment planning when we think of the age of the child. Explaining treatment is very different for a parent versus a child.”

Dental student Rand Jafaar (CDMA ’26) added, “I’m really interested in pediatric dentistry. It was my first experience of what it was like to treat a child, and the experience motivates me to get more involved in the pediatric clinic in the future.”

Over 200 dental students from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona (CDMA) participated in the event, which helps them prepare for their future careers and enhance Midwestern University’s commitment to community service. “It’s to instill within them the concept that being a professional includes giving back to the community,” Dr. Dodell said. “It’s a humbling experience to see the students interact and help all these children at the event. The faculty donate their time, we have staff here, and everyone’s coming together to help the kids that unfortunately cannot help themselves. The student involvement is a different group every year. The event is organized by the student dental association, and it’s nice to see a bunch of young future professionals put their heart and soul into making the event happen.”

Maria added that, “being able to give to the community oral health recommendations, treatment services, and opportunities to attain them means a lot. Dentistry can be very expensive, and not everyone can afford to be treated, or they only see a dentist when they are in pain. Prevention is a huge part of our profession, and we were able to reach the community to help educate them. Knowing that at least once a year these kids will be seen by a health care professional is very important. This event keeps spreading health and healthy habits to those that don’t necessarily have access to it.”

Community service is just one of the benefits of an education at Midwestern University. “Students do a large number of treatment procedures and gain a lot of hands-on experiences treating patients. When they graduate, they’re ready to hit the ground running with confidence in their skillset, and resources to keep learning; part of being a professional is constant learning,” Dr. Dodell said.

The free Dental Day for Kids has been held since 2012. Midwestern University operates a Dental Institute in Downers Grove, IL, and Glendale, AZ through its Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) degree program on both campuses.

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