ICCC dental hygiene students organize Give Kids a Smile Day

Malakhai Somsack, 6, was going to be for a bit of a rough ride Saturday morning during the annual Give Kids A Smile Day at Iowa Central Community College.

He was in the capable hands of dental hygiene student Shelly Reed and Dr. John Clay who were going to pull eight of his baby teeth.

“You’re doing really good,” Reed told him as they began the procedure.

As he worked, Clay talked softly to his young patient and gave him encouragement.

“It’s not too often we have somebody as brave as you in the chair,” he said.

Saturday’s session was the second visit to a dentist for the young patient. His sister Nova, 5, was seeing one for the first time according to her mom, Britny Rich, of Webster City.

She said the family is in transition between insurance opportunities.

“We would have to wait for the next opportunity,” she said, “Not many dentists will take you without insurance.”

The lack of insurance or trouble finding dentists who will accept Title 19 coverage is one of the inspirations for the day according to Renee Piper, dental hygiene program director.

“We’re offering free dental care to children without a dental home,” she said.

In addition to helping the community, the program also gives the students exposure to watching dental work that they don’t normally see, she said.

“They learn so much,” Piper said.

Clay is on his fifth year as a volunteer dentist.

“I love helping the kids,” he said. “They don’t have a regular dentist.”

He said there is a very high need for dental care among children in the Fort Dodge area. The day’s clinic is an opportunity to help some of those.

“They get the work done they need,” he said.

Dr Anne Arklie, of Gowrie, also volunteered her services. Her assistant, Shelly Warehime, came along for the day as well.

“The kids need some help,” Warehime said.

Arklie was happy to have her along.

“I’m so pleased she did,” Arklie said.

Each year, the event is organized by a different group of dental hygiene students. This year, Kayla Demmer, Michaela Grimm and Stephanie Sloth gathered all the resources and lined up the doctors.

“I think it’s awesome anytime we can do something to help those in need,” she said.

After his procedure, Somsack was left with a mouth full of absorbent cotton wads and a numb face. After a bit, he decided that it might be time for a hug from mom.

In his hand, he held a bag with a new toothbrush, paste and colorful instructions for using them.

In another, he had his eight baby teeth.

He nodded that yes, they were going to be left for the Tooth Fairy.

The going rate for eight baby teeth.

“We’ll have to see,” Rich said. “She never tells me.”