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Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Dental Medicine students, faculty and staff helped give free oral screenings to 150 children in kindergarten through third grade at Hurley Elementary School in La Puente, California Feb. 5, 2016.

The College of Dental Medicine joined Chinese American Dental Society of Southern California volunteers for Give Kids A Smile, an annual one-day volunteer initiative to provide free educational and preventative oral health services to children.

A College of Dental Medicine team also volunteered for Give Kids A Smile at the Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) dental clinic in Pacoima, California Feb. 6, 2016. The MEND clinic is a WesternU CDM community partner where DMD students rotate on Wednesdays and volunteer on Saturdays to service an underserved population.

“Humanism is part of our core values,” said College of Dental Medicine Interim Associate Dean for Community Partnerships and Access to Care Jenny Sun Tjahjono, DMD. “It’s very important for us to continue to promote the importance of oral health, especially at a younger age. Oral disease and cavities are preventable.

“Statistics show that oral disease in children has a direct correlation with school attendance,” she added. “Good oral health improves school performance.”

The dentists and CDM students checked the children’s mouths and noted any infections, abscesses or other urgent needs. Parents and school officials were told about any dental issues so they could follow up with their primary dentists. The CDM students also gave oral health education presentations to the children.

“This was a nice opportunity for us to educate young children about oral hygiene, how to brush your teeth and how to floss,” said fourth-year College of Dental Medicine student Marvin Vallejo. “It’s important to start them young and build a foundation for their oral health.

The Chinese American Dental Society of Southern California (CADSSC) has visited Hurley for Give Kids A Smile the past four years. It’s a fun event that allows them to give back to the community, said CADSSC President Wilson Long, DDS. Long said he met Tjahjono at an event last year, which led to WesternU assisting at Hurley.

“It’s always good exposure for the society to help out students if we can,” Long said. “If we can be mentors in any way, we want to help.”

“Our families appreciate it,” said Hurley Principal Yesenia Alvarez. “It’s a wonderful service the community gets. We look forward to having this for many years to come.”