SIUE offers free dental care for kids on Columbus Day

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ALTON, Ill. – The SIUE Dental School continued its Columbus Day tradition of offering free dental care to a number of children in the metro east region.

“Access to care for these kids is difficult. So when they have a chance to come here for this care and we try to do comprehensive care for the kids during the day, they’re here,” said Bruce Rotter, Dean of SIU’s School of Dental Medicine. “So within the limitations of what the child can sit for we try to do all the care they need within this time frame.”

For the past 12 years, the Alton-based dental school has taken part in giving kids a day to smile.

“A lot of these kids, it’s their first exposure to the dentist, so we want it to be a fun experience and positive experience,” Katie Kosten, Director of Community Dentistry. “And if the first experience goes well, they’re less likely to be intimidated the next time they have to go back.”

From teeth cleaning to cavity filling, x-rays to extraction, almost 400 dental students, mentors, and volunteers from SIUE and students from Lewis and Clark Community College helped provide dental care for free.

More than 120 children, ages 3 to 13 took, part in the free dental day, filled with memories for former dental medicine students as well.

“I remember the experience as a student, so I can relate to what the students are doing,” Kosten said. “But it’s fun to come back on the other side and see what they’re doing and the impact from an organizational standpoint.”