Kids get a reason to smile at free dental clinic in Janesville
He had just visited the dentist for the first time and had no cavities.
“Nothing looks bad,” said Dr. Lance Miller after examining the 4-year-old’s teeth during the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile Program offered by the staff at Robinson & Prijic Family Dental Associates, 1714 N. Randall Ave.
Saul and his 6-year-old sister, Alianna Carrillo, were among 110 children ages 12 and younger seen by the staff at the Janesville clinic.
Their mother, Penny Roeling of Janesville, was grateful that her children could receive free dental care.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “Teeth are as important as any other body part.”
Roeling said she could not afford the dental work, and the savings allows her to pay for gas, groceries, clothes and shoes for her children.
This year is the third time that staff members at Robinson & Prijic have participated in the program, said Kathy McCulloch, receptionist/secretary.
In 2011, 100 children were scheduled, and 91 showed up. That’s about the same number of low-income children, ages 4 to 12, who were served in 2010, she said.
If the children’s families would have had to pay for the work, it would have cost them $17,000 the first year, $26,000 last year and $30,000 this year, McCulloch said.
Staff members volunteered their time Friday, and services included examinations, cleaning, fluoride and sealant treatments, and fillings.
To promote the event, which took four months to plan, the staff contacted ECHO, Community Action, House of Mercy, the YWCA, the Women, Infants and Children program and the Janesville schools.
“Everyone who called got scheduled,” McCulloch said.
“We’re still getting calls,” she said as the phone rang, more vehicles pulled into the packed parking lot and families filed into the full waiting room.
The staff kept everyone moving efficiently so they could get in to see the dentists—David Robinson, Robert Prijic, Miller and John Bauwens—or other clinical staff, including dental assistants and hygienists.
McCulloch said there “definitely” is a need for the free service because more families are without dental insurance.
Robinson explained why the clinic gets involved in this national initiative.
“Janesville has been good to me and my family. So this was something we want to do,’’ he said, admitting that the afternoon of dental work only makes a dent in the families that can’t afford care.
“We’re trying to catch the ones who fall through the cracks,’’ Robinson said.