Ten-year-old Gillian Johnson opened her mouth and, with a tiny brush, dental hygienist Lilian Regalado applied fluoride onto her teeth Tuesday morning at George Washington Elementary School in Burbank.
The fifth-grader was one of roughly 455 students who received free dental services at the “Give Kids a Smile” event, part of National Children’s Dental Health Month.
Kids’ Community Dental Clinic, a Burbank-based nonprofit, visited the campus to provide the students with dental care, including fluoride treatment application and screenings, along with lessons on brushing, flossing and oral hygiene.
“I learned that if your teeth bleed, you should always tell your parents, and I should always brush my teeth two times a day and have lots of water,” Johnson said.
The clinic, founded 13 years ago, is run by two employees and a number of volunteer dentists and hygienists. Located behind McKinley Elementary School, the clinic serves uninsured, low-income youth at roughly $15 per appointment.
Last year, the nonprofit treated 991 child patients and offered dental services to roughly 7,000 children through events like the one on Tuesday at area schools, said executive director Dale Morimizu Gorman.
“Tooth decay is totally preventable,” Morimizu Gorman said. “We try to lift every barrier to access to dental care that we can lift.”
The event marked the first schoolwide dental clinic at George Washington and it drew 25 volunteers.
According to a 2012-13 state report, 64% of the school’s student body comes from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, meaning those students are either eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches or neither of their parents earned a high-school diploma.
“The students are very responsive,” Regalado said.
Principal Brandi Young said she hopes to continue the on-campus event in the future.
“We do have families that don’t have insurance or the means to take their children to the dentist,” Young said. “Our population of kids really needs something like this.”
This month, the clinic is also offering free walk-in screenings every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for children.
For more information, visit www.kidsclinic.org.