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Sealant Saturday Provides Free Treatments for Children

Written by Adam Zewe

UMSOD volunteers provided free sealant treatments in Perryville for 66 children during the eighth annual Sealant Saturday on March 3. Faculty, staff and students, as well as dentists and hygienists from the local community, collaborated to place 446 sealants. The event was sponsored by the Maryland Dental Hygienists' Association and supported by the Student American Dental Hygienists' Association and student chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists.

The clinic buzzes with activity as kids of all ages receive sealants and learn about dental hygiene. Glynda Leonard, of Rising Sun, Md., brought her 9- and 10-year-old children to the clinic. She considers dental treatment a priority for her kids, but cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for sealants. "The school of dentistry is providing a service that most insurance companies don't cover. It really helps me out," she remarks. Victor Pierce, of Rising Sun, Md., appreciates the opportunity to help his 8- and 6-year-old kids stay healthy. "Sealants are important because the mouth is the gateway to your whole health," states Pierce.

Providing care for kids is fun because they show endless curiosity, declares Sarah Caffey, a senior dental hygiene student. As she builds rapport with her young patients, Caffey develops skills to calm children who are apprehensive about dental care. For Senior Dental Hygiene Student Ashley Hutchinson, Sealant Saturday provides a rewarding way to help grateful patients. "Perryville is an underserved area. To be able to prevent decay here is really important because a lot of these people can't afford dental care," she remarks.

Eighty-four volunteers worked together during Sealant Saturday, which has been held in Perryville since 2010. The outreach effort provides an important oral health care service to a community that struggles with access to dental care, states Clinical Instructor Leila Liberman, RDH, BS. "Sealants are extremely important for the prevention of decay for kids who aren't great brushers," she explains. Liberman, who has coordinated the program since it originated in 2006, hopes Sealant Saturday inspires students to volunteer in underserved communities after they enter the workforce.

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