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Dental delight: Janesville office has jolly time with scraper, drill

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Catherine W. Idzerda
February 5, 2011
— Fun is usually not associated with the high-pitch whine of dental drills and the uncomfortable scraping noise of plaque coming off teeth.

But on Friday, the dentists, hygienists, assistants and support staff of Robinson & Prijic Family Dental were having a great time.


Dr. Robert Prijic went so far as to declare it the “funnest day of the year.”


The occasion? The American Dental Association’s “Give Kids a Smile” day, a national event designed to provide dental care to children who wouldn’t have access to care.


Nationwide, more than 12,000 dentists provided care for almost 399,000 children.


At Robinson & Prijic, five dentists saw 110 kids, said Mary Long Schadel, dental hygienist and “Give Kids a Smile” committee member. Last year, the clinic saw 70 children and provided approximately $17,000 in treatment for free.


“Give Kids a Smile” is a complicated endeavor, requiring months of preparation and, on the day of the event, a complicated choreography between waiting room, dental hygienists and dentists. They never know what kind of dental problems they will encounter.


“It is a lot of fun, it really is,” Long Schadel said.


Many of Friday’s patients seemed to be having a good time, too. Skylynn Sue Jones, 5, inspected a new filling with a mirror. Then she took a good look at all sides of her tongue.


Earlier, under the influence of nitrous oxide, she announced, “You’re silly,” to almost everyone she met, including Prijic.


In another treatment room, Tristan Jones, 7, Skylynn Sue Jones’ cousin, braved the long Novocain needle without a squeak. Of course, both his hands were balled tightly into fists, and he kicked the toes of his boots together until the needle was withdrawn.


Before starting to work, Dr. David Robinson asked Tristan how his mouth felt. Tristan put one of his fingers in his mouth, felt around, and after a long, considering pause said: “This part feels weird, and this part feels OK.”


Tristan had to have a nerve clipped—readers should now clutch their jaws in sympathy—and get a cavity filled, but it didn’t bother him. When he went to meet his mother and grandmother in the waiting room, he was a little subdued, but that’s all. There was some coloring to be done and a bag full of dental treats and toys to be examined.


Meanwhile, Prijic polished Skylynn Sue Jones’ teeth to a beautiful shine. When Prijic asked her what she thought, she gave him a thumbs up and a big smile.


Between patients, Prijic explained that his office was trying to reach people who fall through the cracks. They might be working but not have dental insurance or be making enough to afford care.


Office staff contacted Mat Haeger, Janesville School District manager of health and safety. He contacted the school nurses and principals and asked them for students who particularly need dental help.


Many of the kids had never been to a dentist before, Long Schadel said.



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