Happy Smiles Dental Clinic for Children/India Experience

The Doña Ana Community College (DACC) Dental Program is pleased to launch a new event aimed at improving oral hygiene for children in the community who have limited resources and no dental insurance.

Students and faculty from the Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting Programs are inviting children and adolescents’ ages 2 – 15 years old to schedule an appointment to receive a free dental cleaning, radiographs, fluoride and oral hygiene instruction.

“We have sponsored ‘Give Kids a Smile Day’ for several years, however, we will host our own stand-alone event for children in the community,” said Elmer Gonzalez, Director of the Dental Hygiene Program. “The event is scheduled for 2 days where our students, under the guidance of dentists and dental professionals, will provide free preventive services to children in need.”

The Happy Smiles free dental clinic will take place at the DACC Espina Campus, Alex Sanchez Hall, room 80 on February 21 and 22 from 8 am – 12 pm and 1pm – 4:30 pm.

The address is 3400 South Espina Street, Las Cruces, NM 88003. This event is by appointment only. Please call the DACC Dental Clinic at (575) 528-7019 to reserve your appointment. A parent or legal guardian must be present with the minors. No treatment will be provided if minors do not have a parent or legal guardian with them.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tooth decay (cavities) is one of the most common chronic conditions of children in the U.S. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning. CDC researchers have found evidence of plaque and tooth decay leading to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature, low-weight births.

DACC Students Learn Culture and Caring in India

Eight of the DACC dental hygiene students and the faculty, who will work with patients during the “Happy Smiles” event recently returned from India where they participated in a learning experience treating patients and participating in cultural immersion.

The cultural and service learning experience was well received by students who had to provide services without knowing the language or cultural norms in another country.

From Dec. 29, 2017 to Jan. 12, 2018, a team of 32 dental and health care providers from Las Cruces and throughout New Mexico, traveled to India to provide free dental services. Five DACC faculty members, and other healthcare professionals provided preventive dental hygiene services as well as dental exams and restorations to children from four different schools, including a school for children with special needs and some geriatric patients in the city of Shahdol.

DACC students worked with fellow dental hygiene students, students from pre-nursing, dental professionals, nurses and other associated health programs from the United States and from India.

Under the leadership of faculty members Elmer Gonzalez and Rebecca Sanchez, students and providers took care of 508 patients who received treatment, 270 children received full services including preventive dental care, exam and cleaning, 33 of these children were children with special needs from a local school and more than 3,500 children received oral hygiene instruction.