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'Give Kids a Smile' Program Provides EBR Students with Free Dental Cleanings

 Fifty students from Capitol Elementary and Park Medical Academy embark on a new educational journey: discovering the importance of oral health.
Fifty students from Capitol Elementary and Park Medical Academy embark on a new educational journey: discovering the importance of oral health.

BATON ROUGE, La. - Capitol Elementary and Park Medical Academy students are being schooled in a new subject: oral health.


Cheree Duvick, Health Services Director for EBR Schools, unveiled the initiative as part of the "Give Kids a Smile" Program. This collaborative effort between local dentists and East Baton Rouge Schools offers complimentary dental services to students.


"We provide cleanings, exams, and inform parents about any significant issues that may necessitate further dental attention, which can be arranged at a later date," Duvick explained. "Some dentists also impart educational sessions for our students."


Kristy Mayes, Chief Development Officer of Open Health Care Clinic, expressed enthusiasm about the program's educational component.


"We're going to discuss the importance of brushing their teeth, reducing sugary drinks, and incorporating flossing into their routines," Mayes said.


Mayes emphasized that over 50% of local children lack dental insurance, leading to the neglect of crucial oral hygiene practices like routine cleanings. However, programs like this bridge the gap, ensuring access to essential dental care for those in need.


"Many kids in our community lack access to preventive oral care, so our goal is to provide them with a welcoming environment to maintain bright and healthy smiles," Mayes remarked.

According to Duvick, instilling good dental habits early is vital for long-term health.


"Neglected oral health can result in various health complications later in life, underscoring the importance of educating our youth to prevent such issues," Duvick emphasized.


The overarching aim is to enhance students' well-being and academic performance.


"When oral health concerns are addressed, students can focus on their studies without the distraction of dental discomfort," Duvick noted.


The "Give Kids a Smile" Program is an annual event held every February. Since its inception over two decades ago, the partnership has positively impacted over 10,000 students.

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