0
Votes

Dentists Drill Parents on Dental Care

Addressing Pediatric Dental Needs

Some children dread going to the dentist, but Marcela Angulo can’t wait to go back.

Marcela was one of more than 40 children who received free dental work at Give Kids a Smile Day at Ellington and Hulbert Dentistry in Sterling, Friday, May 11. Dr. Paul Ellington and Dr. Robert Hulbert provided free dental screenings, cleanings and dental treatment for children from low-income families, children who do not have dental insurance and children who "fall through the cracks in their ability to receive regular medical and dental care through the regular systems in place," said spokesperson Sue Glover.

"My teeth feel so good," Marcela said. "At first I was scared because I thought I had a cavity, but now my mouth feels much better."

Ellington cleaned Marcela’s teeth and sealed her bottom set during her first appointment Friday morning. She sat next to her mother, Gladys Angulo, in the front of the Sterling office, anxiously awaiting her second trip to the dentist’s chair. Even though the 10-year-old said she had been to a dentist once before, she had never gone to one as big as Ellington and Hulbert’s office.

"It smells like bubble gum in there," Marcela said. "I can’t wait to go back."

ELLINGTON AND HULBERT invited pediatric dentist Ben Baghai to assist them with the fourth annual Give Kids a Smile Day.

The three dentists and handful of dental hygienists worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on children from 6 years old to 12 years old.

Several months ago, Ellington and Hulbert contacted Sterling elementary and middle school nurses to inform them, once again, of the day. The nurses provided the dentists a list of names of students in need of dental care.

For five hours, the dentists completed as many procedures as possible.

"We want to help as many kids as we can in a short amount of time," Ellington said.

FE FERNANDEZ is the parent liaison at Meadowland Elementary School. She and the school nurse shuttled six Meadowland Elementary School students to the Sterling office Friday morning.

Fernandez combed the dentist office's halls to check on the students. She poked her head into the room of second-grader Emelyn Leiba, where dental hygienists Teri Fortier and Pat Mason cleaned her teeth.

"This is Emelyn’s second time coming," Fortier said.

Next door, Emelyn Leiba’s brother, Steven, got his teeth cleaned.

"The parents are very, very appreciative," Fernandez said. "This is so important to them. It’s a big thing, what they’re doing."

FOR ELLINGTON, Friday was an opportunity for him to educate children, and their parents, about dental hygiene.

"The first year, we were overwhelmed by the number of kids in our office," Ellington said. "It’s an eye-opening experience, to see so many children in need of dental work in a place like Loudoun County."

Ellington stressed the importance of treating toothaches right away. In March, a 12-year-old Maryland boy died from a severe brain infection, which stemmed from a toothache.

Some warning signs of a serious dental problem include a swollen face and any bleeding from the mouth.

Ellington suggested parents who do not have dental insurance visit the Northern Virginia Dental Society in Annandale or call 703-642-5297 for more information.

THE FRONT OF Ellington and Hulbert’s office was packed with children who anxiously awaited, for some, their very first dentist appointment.

The boys and girls carried on conversation in English and Spanish about their experiences in the dentists’ chairs.

"I only have to get one pinch next time," a Meadowland Elementary School student said, about getting his cavity filled. "I’m not scared."

DOCTOR DAVID GOODFRIEND, director of the Health Department, said the county does have a dental program targeted at children who do not have insurance or come from an at-risk background. However, the wait to see a dentist is typically three to six months long.

"There is such a demand of these services," Goodfriend said. "The number of people is limited by the fact that we only have one dentist."

The county dentist sees nine to 10 patients a day, on average.

Volunteer dentists also visit primary schools to conduct dental screenings of all students, Goodfriend said.

The Loudoun County Free Clinic also provides dental care targeted to adults who are at risk as well.