Maria Flores brought her oldest child to the UMKC School of Dentistry for his first checkup a dozen years ago. The care was good and affordable, so as her family grew she returned regularly.
“My doctor told me how important it is to take care of children’s teeth,” she said, “and he told me about UMKC. I have four children now – 13, 11, 5 and 2 – and I bring them all here. My insurance covers their checkups, twice a year.”
It’s easy to see why Flores, who brought her children in on Feb. 5, keeps coming back. The school’s Lowry Pediatric Clinic offers comprehensive care – from cleanings and checkups to fillings and other needed restorative work – in a bright, kid-friendly space. If families have trouble affording the care, free or reduced-rate work is available. The school estimates that the donated care through this clinic is worth approximately $60,000 a year.
At the clinic, the faculty and other area dentists who give their time are particularly interested in expanding children’s access to dental care. And DDS and hygiene students get needed experience in treating children – and treating them kindly. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children receive their first dental check-up as soon as the first tooth erupts and no later than at 12 months of age. That’s why UMKC’s school of dentistry offers free check-ups to children under age 3 years of age
This time of year, third-year DDS students and second-year hygienists help staff the clinic, and they can be heard gently and encouragingly telling their young patients: “Good job.” “You might feel a little pinch.” “We’re almost finished.” “You’ve been so patient.” “Let’s go get a prize.”
And in the first full week of February, visits to the Lowry Pediatric Clinic get a little extra boost. February is the American Dental Association’s Children’s Dental Health Month, along with the association’s Give Kids a Smile program. UMKC has participated in the program for 14 years, and this year that meant extra toys, story books and coloring exercises for the children. The goodies all are in line with the program’s goal of promoting the benefits of good oral health to children and to their caregivers and teachers.
“Patient care and service to society are two key parts of our mission at the School of Dentistry,” Dean Marsha Pyle said. “The Lowry clinic and our participation in Give Kids a Smile help us serve both of those functions.”
Find photos from the pediatric clinic and events here.