FARMINGTON — To allow disadvantaged children to receive proper dental care, San Juan College's Dental Hygiene program and the local Dental Society will offer "Give Kids a Smile Day" on Friday.

This is the 12th year the college has participated in the national event, which provides free dental care to children ages 5 to 12. In past clinics, more than $40,000 of dental work has been performed in a single day.

More than 50 San Juan County children are expected to be served again this year.

"This is an opportunity for the dental program to give back by taking care of underserved children in the community," said Dr. Julius Manz, director of the college's Dental Hygiene program.

Treatments provided will include fillings, extractions, cleanings, X-rays and fluoride applications, and, if needed, patients will be able to obtain continuing care from community dentists.

"Anything we can do, we will do," Manz said. "There will even be a few orthodontists present who will pick a few of the neediest cases and provide pro bono treatment."

Manz said there's no pre-requisite for children to obtain the free exams and treatment, but an appointment is required.

"This really is a community effort, with dentists volunteering from all around the community, as well as dental hygiene students and nurses from public schools and the Boys and Girls Club," he said.

The New Mexico Dental Association and Northwest District Dental Society are providing supplies for the event, as well as goody bags containing toothpaste, toothbrushes and other items for the children to take with them after their treatments.

Manz said catching dental issues early is key, as is getting kids used to receiving regular dental care.

"It's so important to take care of problems when kids are young so they won't have them as adults. We will be providing a lot of preventive care, like fluoride treatments and education on how to prevent (oral) diseases in the future," Manz said. "We also want to show kids that going to the dentist isn't scary and can be enjoyable."


What: “Give Kids a Smile Day,” a free dental clinic for kids ages 5 to 12

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday

Where: San Juan College Dental Hygiene program in the college’s Health and Human Performance Center, 4601 College Blvd., Farmington

Where: Free

More info: Appointments are required. No walk-ins. Appointments can be made by calling Linda Mickey with the San Juan United Way at 505-326-1195. For more information on the clinic, contact the college’s Dental Hygiene program at 505-566-3126.

Leigh Black Irvin covers health for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4610 and Follow her @irvindailytimes on Twitter.