Hundreds of kids get free dental care at UNMC College of Dentistry

A child gets free dental care from UNMC College of Dentistry students. (Source: KOLN)
A child gets free dental care from UNMC College of Dentistry students. (Source: KOLN)(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 4:51 PM CST
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Nebraska has a higher than average rate of dental caries, or tooth decay. That's according to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Today, hundreds of kids who wouldn't otherwise have access to dental care got their teeth cleaned for free as part of the 37th annual Children's Dental Day at the UNMC College of Dentistry.

230 kids from Lexington, Crete, Columbus, Fremont, Hastings, Grand Island, and Omaha came to Lincoln to get their teeth checked, cleaned and even some extractions. The UNMC College of Nursing was also on hand to provide check ups.

To make going to the doctor a little less scary, kids also got to play games and learn about the importance of good dental hygiene from dental students dressed as tooth fairies, super heroes and clowns.

UNMC said students benefit just as much as the kids.

"Our students, residents, staff, faculty, gets to participate in this sense of giving, right?" said UNMC Associate Dean Dr. Jill Wallen. "Giving back to our communities in which we live and work and raise our own family, and care for those kids who otherwise wouldn't have access to dental care."

Students said Children's Dental Day gives them hands-on learning.

"Especially here in Nebraska, if you're in a smaller town, you see kids anyway, so you want to make sure you have the experience for that and you give them the best treatment that you can," said Mary Pollmiller, a fourth year dental student. "We're also learning when we need to refer a patient out to make sure they get the best care."

UNMC said it does two Children's Dental Days every year. One on the college's campus, and one later in the year where students head to the panhandle to work with kids who can't make it to Lincoln.