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"I loved it": Free dental clinic gets children excited about oral health

Hundreds of children and adults received dental care this week from students, residents, and faculty from NYU's dental school, at no out-of-pocket cost.

MACHIAS (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Saturday was the final day for the annual New York University College of Dentistry and Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program in Machias, now in its eighth year.

Hundreds of children and adults received dental care this week from students, residents, and faculty from NYU’s dental school, at no out-of-pocket cost.

The clinic mainly focuses on children’s oral health, with over 370 kids being seen at the clinic this week, but it's not just for kids, as approximately 250 adults also sought treatment.

"Sometimes it can be really scary, and they went right to the chairs without a problem," Renee Jordan, a mother of three, tells NEWS CENTER Maine. "I haven't been able to get him to go to a dentist yet so he went in and he laid right down for them and he opened his mouth which is super surprising for me."

If not for this free dental clinic, Jordan would have to take a day off from work to bring her children to the dentist.

"Coming on a Saturday, that makes it so that I don't have to lose out on pay and I can come to the free clinic and have everybody's teeth done at the same time,” adds Jordan. “It's very, very convenient."

Children and adults in need of dental care in the Machias community were offered everything from a routine dental cleaning, a filling, and even emergency dental care, including extractions, all free of charge.

It ends up being as much of an opportunity for the students at NYU, as for the dental patients themselves.

"They seem like they really know what they're doing,” says Jordan. “So I say, ‘kudos’ to them. It's a great learning experience and it's great for us."

"Our community has embraced this program,” says Teresa Alley, Oral Health Coordinator with the Washington County Children's Program. “From the hospital who offers sterilization of our instruments through the week, to the hotels in the area who do a reduced rate."

Alley says this dental clinic gives her organization an opportunity to see how well they are succeeding to prevent cavities in area children.

Next year’s dental clinic is already planned for next April in Machias.