Because a nice smile shouldn’t cost a thing |

Because a nice smile shouldn’t cost a thing

by Caryn Haller

Gardnerville mom Anna Mullin can breathe a little easier knowing her daughter Erika has a clean bill of dental health.

Erika, 10, was one of 35 children seen free of charge Saturday during the national Give Kids a Smile program hosted by the office of Dr. Eric Park in Gardnerville.

“It gives me piece of mind because I’ve been having trouble getting Erika on Medicaid. I was very happy when nurse Rebecca told me about the program because Erika hasn’t seen a dentist in over a year,” Mullin said. “I’m really happy now I know it’s taken care of. I’m very grateful to the dentists for doing this, and taking the time out of their schedule is awesome.”

Each February, thousands of dental offices across the country team up to provide free services to children who otherwise may not have access to dental care.

“We wanted to participate and give something back to the community where we live,” Elizabeth Park said. “We’ve been blessed with our abilities to have this career and we want to give back. This is just part of what we feel blessed to do.”

Although Eric has participated in the program for 11 years in Lake Tahoe, this is the fourth year they have offered the program in Gardnerville. Elizabeth has an office in Carson City.

At the end of the day, children with extensive needs, such as multiple fillings, are adopted and receive continued free treatment for the rest of the year.

Michelle Strand of Minden and her three children, Matthew, 9, Megan, 6, and Andrew, 5, waiting patiently for their turn to see the dentist.

“This program is great. My husband is self employed so we don’t have dental insurance,” Michelle said.

Matthew was probably going to need a filling done on Saturday, but said he didn’t mind sitting in the dentist’s chair.

“I’ve been to one once that I remember,” he said. “I only don’t like the part about not being able to feel my tooth after.”

Minden Elementary nurse Rebecca Oxoby screened most of the children that were seen Saturday.

“It’s wonderful they are doing this. The parents are so happy about it, even the kids,” Oxoby said. “Getting dental work done is very important because if they have pain they can’t concentrate on school, and it helps their confidence when they have a good smile.”

Among the several volunteers, the office also had the help of three dental hygienists, Mona McConville, Kathleen Looney and Christine Liesing; three dental assistants, Lea Sencion, Jamie Wojciechowski and Kendra Colatorti; administrative staff, Mary Sellers; office manager, Edy Carter; and a translator, Anita Swearingen.

In total, the office donated approximately $8,000 in dental services throughout the day.

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