Six-year-old Gracyn Wetter was fluctuating between scared and excited as she stepped into the treatment room at Ferguson & Associates March 6. She had never seen a dentist before and wasn’t sure what to expect.
Within minutes, dental hygienist Eileen Wood had put Gracyn at ease, eliciting giggles and small talk from her next patient. “Now you’ll be lucky to get her to stop talking long enough to clean her teeth,” said her mother, Sarah Wetter.
Gracyn had come to the Concord dentistry practice as part of the “Give Kids A Smile” program, sponsored by a partnership between Healthy Cabarrus and the Cabarrus Health Alliance. The American Dental Association launched the national Give Kids A Smile program in 2003 for dentists to join with others in the community to provide dental care to children who do not have insurance or Medicaid.
Tracy Ginder, coordinator for Cabarrus Give Kids A Smile, said this year 13 area dentist offices provided free dental services to about 200 children. In the past 13 years that Cabarrus County has participated, Ginder said dentists and staff have provided free dental care, including cleanings, fillings, extractions and more expensive procedures to 1,800 uninsured children. Those procedures would have cost more than $700,000.
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Ferguson & Associates has been participating in the event for the past 10 years, Dr. Sean Ferguson said, because “I think it is a great way to give back to the community. To help out kids that may not otherwise get the treatment that is needed.”
Wetter said she is a stay-at-home mom and that her husband, an electrician, is unemployed; the event was her first chance to have Gracyn see a dentist.
Before Dr. Michael Ferguson came in, Wood told Gracyn and her mother that the child’s teeth looked good, but expressed concern about the alignment of her upper teeth.
Ferguson explained there needed to be a corrective measure to straighten Gracyn’s teeth. Wood then took Gracyn to have a panoramic 3-D x-ray of her teeth made to send to an orthodontist that may be willing to help.
Wetter said she is grateful for the help.
“If a person feels confident in their smile, they will feel confident in life,” Ginder said. “The program also helps give parents a peace of mind. When times are tough, dental care does not usually make it to the top of the priority list but parents realize it is a need.”
You can hear the relief in a parent’s voice, she said, when they realize the care is free.
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to help?
If anyone would like to donate money, supplies, or services for the 2016 Give Kids A Smile, contact Tracy Ginder at email@example.com or 704-920-1303.
Checks can be made payable to “Cabarrus Public Health Interest.” In the memo line write Give Kids A Smile. Mail to Cabarrus Public Health Interest, Give Kids A Smile-Tracy Ginder, 300 Mooresville Road, Kannapolis, NC 28081. Donations are tax-deductible.